Jun 262017

Supreme Court Strikes Down Anti-Gay Arkansas Birth Certificate Law, Neil Gorsuch Among Dissenting Votes

June 26, 2017 Civil Rights, LGBT News

USA Today Newspaper reported:


The Supreme Court on Monday struck down an Arkansas law that treated same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples on their children’s birth certificates, over the dissent of three conservative justices.

The ruling came from the court without one justice’s authorship. But Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented.

The practice is rare following the high court’s 2015 decision striking down state bans on same-sex marriage, but some states put the husbands of new mothers on birth certificates even if they are not the biological fathers, while making no provision for same-sex spouses.

The challenge was brought by two female couples in Arkansas, where health officials refused to list the non-biological spouse on a newborn’s birth certificate — even though state law requires that husbands who are not the biological fathers receive that status.

The state Supreme Court upheld the law in December in a divided ruling. Associate Judge Jo Hart reasoned that “it does not violate equal protection to acknowledge basic biological truths.” But Chief Justice Howard Brill urged a change in the law, quoting Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin.'”


In asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, Douglas Hallward-Driemeier — one of the lawyers who won the landmark same-sex marriage case two years ago — said upholding the Arkansas law would let states “once again relegate same-sex couples and their families to the stigma, injury and inequality of ‘second-tier’ status.”

If the law had been allowed to stand, he said, other states — among them Alabama, Alaska, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Wyoming — would not be pressured to change similar statutes that differentiate between husbands and same-sex spouses.

The state argued that the two couples should have challenged the state’s artificial insemination statute rather than its birth certificate law. It also noted that after winning a lower court ruling, the couples received birth certificates listing both same-sex spouses as parents.

The state law presumed that in most cases, a mother’s husband is the child’s biological father. But “unlike a husband, a mother’s female spouse will never be a marital child’s biological parent,” the state said in asking the justices to turn down the appeal.

Other Opinions As to Religion Belief/Discrimination

A religious business (or organization) should have the right to discriminate against same-sex couples. The Catholic Church can refuse to hire people in same-sex couples as teachers, and can refuse to ordain women as priests. (This is all covered under the ministry exception). Family Christian Bookstore and Cokesbury could be described as a religious businesses, as they primarily sell religious books, bibles and ministerial supplies.

But there seems to be some confusion about what a religious business is.

Hobby Lobby, for example, is a secular business that happens to have religious owners. They sell craft supplies, not ministerial materials. They are not a church. They are not a parochial school. They have no rights to impose their beliefs on their employees and no ministerial exceptions for discrimination.

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