Seven years ago, my nephew Mike was approached by a lesbian couple, good friends of his, about helping them conceive a child that he might also help them raise. At first, he wasn’t sure, but he had always wanted to be a father, and this looked to be his big chance to fulfill his dream.
Fast forward seven years, and Mike, Jackie and Ann are the happy parents of two adorable blond-haired, blue-eyed daughters, Freya and Liza.
They’ve had to work out their parenting agreement, but a new California bill, SB 1476, sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno, aims to make it possible for all three, and possibly more, parents in such cases to be legally recognized, as long as it’s in the child’s best interest.
From The Sacramento Bee:
“The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today,” the San Francisco Democrat said.
Surrogate births, same-sex parenthood and assisted reproduction are changing society by creating new possibilities for nontraditional households and relationships.
As you might expect, the conservative response has been vociferous: This is yet more proof that the push for gay marriage is a ploy to destroy the family unit. And as for kids getting to have more than two adults supporting and nurturing them into adulthood? We can’t have that!
Benjamin Lopez, legislative analyst for the Traditional Values Coalition, blasted Leno’s bill as a new attempt to “revamp, redefine and muddy the waters” of family structure by a leader in the drive to legalize gay marriage.
As reported in The Sacramento Bee: “It comes as no surprise that he would try to say that a child has more than two parents – that’s absurd,” said Lopez, whose group calls itself a leading voice for Bible-based values. Predictably, on his show last Monday, Rush Limbaugh riffed on the measure and came up with the classic, “What if somebody wants to marry their pet dog?”
The bill doesn’t change the strict requirements for legal parenthood, it merely removes the two-parent-per-child cap. As the Sacramento Bee explains, “Under current law, a parent can be a man who signs a voluntary declaration of paternity, for example. It also can be a man who was married and living with a child’s mother, or who took a baby into his home and represented the infant as his own.”
It’s important to note that the measure only applies in cases where broadening the scope of parenthood is “required to protect the best interest of the child,” according to Leno.
The proposal was inspired by a case where a girl’s two mothers became incapable of caring for her and the biological father stepped up to take custody — but because of the two-parent limit, the court put the girl in state custody.
Leno’s bill, which has passed the Senate and is now in the Assembly, would apply equally to men or women, and to straight or gay couples.
Examples of three-parent relationships that could be affected by SB 1476 include:
• A family in which a man began dating a woman while she was pregnant, then raised that child with her for seven years. The youth also had a parental relationship with the biological father.
• A divorce in which a woman and her second husband were the legal parents of a child, but the biological father maintained close ties as well.
Designating multiple parents in such cases could enhance the child’s prospects for financial support, health insurance or Social Security benefits, thus reducing the state’s potential financial responsibility.
Most importantly, as I have seen with my nephew’s family, it can enhance the child’s chances of having a loving, stable relationship with several adults. What lucky children, to have three involved parents! Isn’t our children’s happiness what all we parents want?
The definition of “family” has expanded from the nuclear family of Ozzie and Harriet to include same-sex parents and kids, grandparents raising kids, three or four adults raising children, and stepparents raising two sets of children, to name just a few.
For right-wingers to object to Leno’s measure because it might destroy families is absurd: these “non-nuclear” families already exist. This is the 21st century. Can we please move forward?
What do you think about the 3-parent family?
Photo Credit: -sim-