Waldlaw Blog

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Do children born to lesbian couples get to have two legal moms?

Next Tuesday, May 24, the California Supreme Court will hear oral argument on 3 lesbian custody cases. While each case is factually quite different, in each case children were born into the homes of lesbian couples and raised by those couples, jointly, for years. In each case, the children were deeply bonded with each woman. In each case, when the couples broke up, the courts found that the children had only one legal parent, not two. The courts have long strived to make sure that children of heterosexual couples, and even children conceived during casual heterosexual coupling, have two legal parents, regardless of the marital status of the people who conceived them. In a myriad of cases, courts have searched far and wide to find men they could hold accountable as fathers to children who otherwise would be left with only one parent, whether or not those "fathers" have any interest in parenting the children. And California courts, in particular, have bent over backwards to affirm the legal parent-child relationships between men who have acted as fathers and the children they have parented, regardless of whether or not there is a genetic connection. But the basic position on lesbian families has been: if kids have one mom, why should we bother to recognize another? This has been true even in cases where the second mom has lived with the child, supported the child, nurtured the child and created a strong and undisputed parent-child bond with the child, all with the first mom's full knowledge and encouragement. It isn't good for children when one of the parents they rely on for care and support disappears. It doesn't matter to the child whether the disappearing parent is male or female, or whether the disappearing parent is genetically related to the child or not. And it is a tragedy that our courts have not only let this happen to children born to lesbian couples, but in fact have acted as the scalpels that surgically remove the second parents from the children's lives. Let's hope that, when the Supreme Court acts on the cases currently before it, children born to lesbian couples will finally be able to look to our courts for protection. (For more on this topic, go to my website, www.waldlaw.net.)


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