Skip to Main Content

Need help understanding your rights as an LGBTQ+ person or someone living with HIV? Click here to visit our virtual Help Desk.

Lambda Legal filed an amicus brief in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court concerning whether the state of Arkansas can disciminate against same-sex couples when listing both spouses as parents on a birth certificate.

Marisa and Terrah Pavan gave birth to their daughter in Arkansas in 2015. The Arkansas Department of Health omitted Marisa's name on the birth certificate after the couple had filed the application with both names on it. Leign and Jana Jacobs also had a birth certificate issued with the name of only one parent on it after they had submitted an application with both names. 

Under Arkansas law, when a married couple has a child, the birth mother’s spouse is automatically listed on the birth certificate as the child’s parent, regardless of how the couple conceived the child. Even if the child was born through donor insemination and is not genetically related to the mother’s spouse, state law requires that spouse be named on the birth certificate as a parent.

In both of these instances, the state of Arkansas treated these same-sex married couples as though their marriages did not exist, refusing to give them the same protections as other married couples under Arkansas state law.

On June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a summary reversal, overturned a decision of the Arkansas Supreme Court, saying loud and clear that states may not treat same-sex married couples differently than other married couples, including when it comes to issuing two-parent birth certificates to children born to same-sex spouses.

Marisa and Terrah Pavan are represented by National Center for Lesbian Rights.