A cross-office Bryan Cave team recently filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of longtime pro bono partner Family Equality Council (FEC) that challenged Arkansas’s refusal to list female spouses of birth mothers on birth certificates. The court on June 26 granted the petition (and Bryan Cave’s motion to file the amicus brief), summarily reversing the Arkansas Supreme Court judgment. The court held that Arkansas’ “differential treatment infringes Obergefell’s commitment to provide same-sex couples ‘the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage.’”
The Bryan Cave team included Senior Counsel Bill Hibsher and Associate Elizabeth Goldberg in New York and Counsel Katherine Keating and Associates Alex Whitworth and Katherine Green in San Francisco.
The firm has partnered with FEC for nearly a decade in support of its mission to help all families be recognized, respected and protected. The firm has played a role in FEC litigation nationwide seeking to strike down statutes and state constitutional amendments that discriminate against same-sex couples in connection with the right to marry and grow their families.
In this case, Pavan v. Smith, Arkansas denied same-sex married couples the right to be named on their children’s birth certificates just as other married parents are. The U.S. Supreme Court summarily reversed the Arkansas Supreme Court decision without requiring oral argument or additional briefing.
This ruling reiterates that Obergefell requires different-sex and same-sex married couples to be treated equally under the law. The ruling came on the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s June 26, 2015, decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in which the court said the Constitution entitles same-sex couples to civil marriage “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.”
Click here for additional information on this latest decision.