In California, the day may come when a judge will decide who’s your daddy, who’s your mommy and who’s your other parent.
That time won’t come this year: Gov. Jerry Brown recently vetoed a bill that would have permitted a court to recognize more than two parents for a child, saying he needed “more time to consider all of the implications” of such a change.
But with modern society producing complicated childbearing situations — like the case of a California girl named “M.C.” that inspired California state Sen. Mark Leno’s multiple-parent bill — recognizing more than two parents for a child is all but inevitable, say supporters.
“I’m actually very optimistic” about getting a multiple-parent bill signed next year, said Shannon Minter, legal director of National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Mr. Brown’s veto message “shows that, in effect, he supports the concept of the bill and just needs more time to look at it,” said Mr. Minter.
“We will work with the governor and anyone else to ensure that this [veto of SB 1476] will not endure,” said Ed Howard, senior counsel for the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law.
Unless this law about children having only two parents gets changed, he said, “judges in California will be forced to issue rulings they know will hurt children by bluntly ordering an end to their real relationships with their real parents.”
Others decry the push to designate three or more parents for a child.
SB 1476 is “a step too far,” said Ron Prentice, executive director of the California Family Council, warning that it would permit courts to overlook a child’s biological ties in favor of someone else with a big bank account.
“It is hard enough for even two parents to agree on how to raise a child,” law professor John Culhane and family scholar Elizabeth Marquardt wrote in Huffington Post in August in a plea for California lawmakers to reject SB 1476.
“When it comes to parenting, three’s a crowd,” they said.
U.S. family law scholars have long been wrestling with the “new and uncharted amniotic waters,” as the California Family Law Monthly put it.
Babies are increasingly being born outside marriage — or between marriages — leading to legal battles over who the babies’ fathers are.
In addition, more people — including same-sex couples — are making babies with the eggs, sperm and wombs of unrelated persons. Usually these “strangers” stay separated from their offsprings’ lives, but sometimes, they want a seat at the dinner table, too.
Since so many children grow up with adults who have no biological ties to them, many observers may think that “children have already had three or more parents for quite some time,” Ms. Marquardt wrote in “One Parent or Five: A Global Look at Today’s New Intentional Families,” released October 2011 by the Institute for American Values.