By Steve Barnes
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - A state judge ruled on Tuesday that Arkansas must list both members of same-sex couples as parents on official birth certificates issued across the state, broadening his earlier finding on behalf of three married lesbian couples with children.
Little Rock Circuit Judge Tim Fox held that a state law restricting parentage identification to heterosexual couples was unconstitutional in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this year legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.
"(The) decision affords the plaintiffs, as same-sex couples, the same constitutional rights with respect to the issuance of birth certificates and amended birth certificates as opposite-sex couples," Fox wrote in his decision.
A spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she would review Fox’s order before commenting.
"It was a wonderful decision,” said Cheryl Maples, attorney for the plaintiffs. "It was exactly what we wanted."
The state had resisted identifying same-sex couples as parents on Arkansas birth certificates largely on technical grounds, arguing the protocol was established by the Legislature and the state Health Board and could not be changed without action by either, or both.
In late November, Fox ruled that the state must record the names of both same-sex marriage partners on the birth certificates of the children for three lesbian couples who challenged the state's rules.
(Reporting by Steve Barnes; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Peter Cooney)