When a child is born in Arizona, their vital records should reflect — and respect — the reality of the family they are born into. Right now, that’s not the case. We hear far too often from LGBTQ parents who are frustrated and upset that their child’s birth certificate does not match their family.
When the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, the court’s majority made clear that same-sex couples should be afforded the entire “constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage.” In September, in a case called McLaughlin v. McLaughlin, the Arizona Supreme Court reaffirmed that conclusion, holding that an Arizona law that gives the presumption of parentage to married opposite-sex couples applies equally to married same-sex couples.
But the Arizona Department of Health Services has not kept up with the law and still does not provide birth certificates or birth certificate applications that fit all possible families. Right now, the state offers birth certificates applications online that say “Mother/Parent 1” and “Father/Parent 2.” This limited language stigmatizes same-sex couples. Only one parent in a family with two mothers is allowed to be designated as the “Mother.” That’s not right and needs to be fixed.
The ACLU of Arizona sent a letter on March 15th to Dr. Cara Christ, the director of Arizona’s Health Services Department, telling her to bring Arizona’s birth certificates and birth certificate applications into compliance with federal and state law. The ACLU of Arizona also told Dr. Christ that her agency should contact all licensed birthing facilities and hospitals in the state to inform them of the changes, and update the Health Services Department’s website and informational material, to be inclusive of all families.
If you want to show your support for the changes the ACLU of Arizona is requesting, you can call Dr. Christ’s office at (602) 542-1025.
by Brenda Muñoz Furnish
Brenda Muñoz Furnish is a Staff Attorney is a Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.
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