Arkansas Judge Halts Issuance of Birth Certificates, Governor Issues Directive

Update: (12:30)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a directive to the Arkansas Department of Health Friday mandating the department must list the spouse of any woman who gives birth, regardless of the gender of the spouse, on the child's birth certificate.

The governor's directive went a step further, mandating that the department was required to issue two corrected certificates, at no extra cost, to the two spouses listed on the certificate.

The department is also being required to communicate with hospital officials, apprising them of the situation and ensuring that female spouses of women who give birth should be treated the same as male spouses of women giving birth.

 Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement in support of Gov. Hutchinson.  

"Governor Hutchinson's directive to the Health Department to issue birth certificates to same sex couples is consistent with the agreement the parties in litigation submitted earlier this week," Rutledge said in the statement.  "Judge Fox has been preventing this agreement from becoming effective and we hope he will accept this reasonable solution. It is important to the people of Arkansas that birth certificates continue to be available, and the United States Supreme Court has required equal treatment in issuing them."

KNWA has also reached out to Judge Tim Fox seeking his comment on the issue, though the mandate from Hutchinson says the directive "complies with the injunction issued by Judge Fox."

Update: (12:12 p.m.)

The Arkansas Department of Health is once again issuing birth certificates, according to an ADH spokesperson.  

This is a continuing story, and more information will be added as it becomes available.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- An Arkansas judge issued an injunction Friday, December 8 that blocked the state from issuing any new birth certificates.  The injunction is set to remain in place until officials can find a way to comply with a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the state's birth certificate law favors heterosexual couples.

In October, the Arkansas Supreme Court ordered Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox to come up with a way for same-sex couples to each be listed on their child's birth certificate.

Fox's solution was to give the state attorneys and three same-sex couples named in a lawsuit fighting the law until January 5 to agree on how to best fix the language of the law.

But according to the injunction issued December 8 by the Circuit Court of Pulaski County, the attempt at finding equally agreeable language has been cast aside, at least for now.  

    Pursuant to the mandate of the United States Supreme Court and the Arkansas Supreme Court, the defendant, his successors and assigns are hereby immediately enjoined from the issuance of any and all birth certificates pursuant to either A.C.A. § 20-18-401 or AC.A. § 20-18-406 unless and until such time as the defendant, his successors, and assigns, are able to issue birth certificates to all same-sex spouses and opposite-sex spouses in accordance with the mandate from the United States Supreme Court and the Arkansas Supreme Court.

According to the mediation order obtained from the Pulaski County Circuit Court, the defendant Nathaniel Smith, the director of the Arkansas Department of Health, "has refused to mediate utilizing the mediation parameters and framework that this court has ordered."

The defendant appealed again to the Arkansas Supreme Court, taking issue with the manner of mediation set forth by the Pulaski County Circuit Court, ultimately threatening to postpone any final resolution of the case.

No birth certificates are being issued in Arkansas, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.  A post on the health department's Twitter expanded on the issue:

"Effective Immediately: ADH is not issuing birth certificates or birth certificate amendments due to an unexpected court order. Staff are still collecting information to process when we are able to issue certificates again.  We apologize for any inconvenience," the tweet read.  

A spokesperson for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she is reviewing the order.

The office of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox said he was unable to comment on ongoing cases. 

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