Marisa and Terrah Pavan have been in a loving, committed relationship for many years, and they have long looked forward to raising children together and growing their family. In 2015 the couple welcomed their child Tucker into the world, but even though the women were legally married four years prior, Terrah, who biologically carried the baby, was the only parent legally allowed to sign the birth certificate. If Marisa and Terrah had been a different-sex couple using fertility treatments, both would have automatically been permitted to sign the birth certificate, but because they are a same-sex couple, their family was treated differently, exposed to discrimination.
The women took their case to court, fighting the Arkansas Department of Health’s discriminatory handling of birth certificates. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that the state’s exclusionary policy violated Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that secured the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide. The couple was happy with the victory but hopes other LGBTQ people do not have to experience similar discrimination in the future. “A family is what you make it, and this is our family,” Terrah said about their child. “She’s not biologically or DNA connected to Marisa, but you can look her in the face and tell her Marisa is her mom. [Marisa] having to go through this hoop kind of takes away a lot of the joy and just the normalcy we expected to have.”