The legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015 did not address same-sex parenting in the United States. For those couples, the legal gap between marriage and parentage weighs heavily on them.
A most recent issue addressing this disparity comes from Arkansas.
The state issues birth certificates to heterosexual, married couples who utilize artificial insemination; however, it will not follow this protocol for same-sex couples.
Senate Bill 580, introduced by Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock), attempts to rectify this shortcoming. Changing the word “husband” to “spouse” would correct the statute pertaining to artificial insemination and surrogacy. One proponent of the bill was Jana Jacobs who has been married to her wife for 14 years. The couple has two sons and is expecting a third child. Jacobs shared her feelings following the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“I wanted to make sure [my children] had the healthcare, financial support — any benefits that would arise from my death or disability. I also never wanted my kids to think that there was anyone absent from their life. They were born into the exact family that they were intended to be in. And a birth certificate with both of our names would make that clear not only to them but to anyone who would require such a document,” Jacobs told The Arkansas Times. She added, “…having a birth certificate with both intended parents would give families immediate relief without having to worry that their children are being left unprotected for any amount of time. A birth certificate could provide much-needed security during our often lengthy and costly process of adoption.”
The benefits she pointed out included social security, life insurance, inheritance, health insurance, child support, and medical decision-making.
In addition to same-sex couples giving testimony, Senator Elliott argued key points to support the bill she crafted.
“Elliott tried to convince the committee that Senate Bill 580 should be seen as a matter of bringing the state into compliance with federal law — and of simple fairness in treating children of same-sex couples no differently from other children. She said the bill was ‘family-friendly’ and would allow ‘those families to take responsibility fully, like any of the rest of us should,’” reported Benjamin Hardy of the Arkansas Times.
Now that the Senate Judiciary Committee has vetoed SB 580, the matter will be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court. Let’s hope that the bill becomes law, putting Arkansas on equal footing with its sister states, where listing same-sex parents on a birth certificate has been a natural progression from the nation-wide legalization of same-sex marriage.