The Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled that Arizona must add an option for listing same-sex parents on birth certificates.
This case began with the divorce of the petitioner Kimberly McLaughlin and her ex-wife Suzan Swanson. While they were married McLaughlin gave birth to a child. During divorce proceedings, they argued over whether Swanson was the child’s parent. The Arizona Supreme Court eventually ruled she was in accordance with “the presumption of legal parentage established at A.R.S. § 25-814(A)(1)” which applies to same-sex parents.
All other issues were solved except how the parties would be designated on the birth certificate. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, the parties must be designated as either “Mother/Father” or “Parent/Parent.” McLaughlin wished to be listed as “Biological Mother” and have her ex-wife listed as “Legal Mother,” while Swanson accepted “Parent/Parent.” The trial court denied McLaughlin’s request so she filed this suit claiming “that the court’s order had ‘stripped’ her of the ‘Mother’ designation on her biological child’s birth certificate solely because she was formerly married to a woman, in violation of her Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection.”
The appeals court Monday found that the trial court had the authority to amend the birth certificate to list both women as the child’s mother. The court remanded back to the trial court for a ruling consistent with this opinion.