California’s Alternative Family Law – Multiple Parents

San Francisco, CA — In continuing to champion the cause of the LGBT community and the heterosexual community, San Francisco Sen. Mark Leno, the first homosexual man to serve the Senate is proposing another bill that legally allow a child to have multiple parents. The bill is applicable  to both homosexual and heterosexual couples.

The idea came to Sen. Leno when in 2011 a girl was placed into foster care by the appellate court because her parents were no longer able to take care of her. Her parents were lesbians who had been legally married. She was placed in the custody of the state and given to a foster home when the mother (biological) was hospitalized and the other mother was jailed. The biological father, with whom the child has an established relationship with, was not appointed as guardian by the court even though he was the legal parent due to lack of authority. According to the senator, if the child had been placed instead with her father, it would have been in her best interest and would have benefitted her. Let’s face it, a lot of kids get messed up when placed in foster care because of the sudden feeling of being displaced from their place of comfort.

The proposed bill is called SB1476, it has already passed voting in the Senate but still awaits the Assembly vote. It was co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and The University of San Diego School of Law’s Children Advocacy Institute. In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Sen. Mark Leno stated, “The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today.” The bill addresses the issue of the ever evolving American family. Before it was simple, a man impregnates a woman and that is it; it can either be through marriage, a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship or living together arrangement. But in today’s society, there’s the issue of same-sex marriages, artificial conception, surrogacy and other reproductive processes/techniques which usually involves multiple individuals.

But the senator is quick to defend that he is not out to reinvent the wheel. He opined that the legal definition of a parent under the law will still be the same. “When a judge recognizes that a child is likely to find his or her way into foster care and if there is an existing parent who qualifies as a legal parent, why not have the law when it is required to protect the well-being of the child?” Before the judge hands out judgements in terms of responsibilities, the parents are required to be legally qualified in all legal standards, and must have an agreement on issues like child support, custody and visitation.

The bill sort of mirrors the law adopted by other states such as Maine, the District of Columbia, Delaware and Pennsylvania that recognizes multiple parents.

But not everyone is agreeing with this proposed legislature. According to Global Family Foundation Studies director, Glen T. Stanton, the proposed law gives out the impression that it is advocating the rights of children but in reality it provides legal protection to adults to create “radical families.”

“We hear all this celebratory talk about ‘new families,’ but there is no sociological, psychological or medical data showing any of these new family forms have served to the elevate the general physical, mental, educational or developmental well-being of children in any meaningful way,” according to Stanton.

Another one who does not agree with the law is the executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, Adam Pertman. Based on his perception, there are limited situations where the law can be applied and there is no such trend to need such a law. Other legal experts in California also argue that if such a law was passed it will complicate issues like wrongful death suits and tax deductions.

The detractors do have a point though, by changing the legal concept of parenting, there are a lot issues that will be impacted by this law. Even Sen. Leno acknowledges the fact that the law maybe applied in certain circumstances and not in a general way.

But is California ready for a law that will shake up the concept of what a family is when it has not yet accepted same-sex marriages? In the end the kids just might end up being more messed up.

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