Deadbeat Gays?
August 24, 2005 6:19 AM   Subscribe

In three different decisions, the Californa Supreme Court has ruled that gay and lesbian couples who raise children are lawful parents and must provide for their children if they break up. Lambda urged the court to rule in favor of finding gays and lesbians as lawful parents under California law "to protect families." The National Center for Lesbian Rights hailed the decisions as "a tremendous victory for children, for parental responsibility, and for common sense." Links to the decisions here, here, and here. (all pdf) Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel "a nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family" derided the decision as defying logic "and common sense by saying that children can have two moms. That policy establishes that moms and dads as a unit are irrelevant when it comes to raising children."
posted by three blind mice (57 comments total)
Isn't it odd how those who are dedicated to advancing the 'traditional family' only know about traditions that go back 50 years?

So now it looks like we have same-sex couples who can be lawful parents, but not lawfully married. State-sponsored bastardy, anybody? I mean, this is almost as ill-prepared as the Ontario courts were when they found out that nobody had bothered to give SSCs the right to divorce when they got the right to marry.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 6:26 AM on August 24, 2005

great news. and this will only help when the equal rights cases come before the Supreme Ct, hopefully.
posted by amberglow at 6:38 AM on August 24, 2005

oh, we do already have state-sponsored bastardy--WIC programs and various other things that provide for single parents, and sometimes end when/if there's marriage.
posted by amberglow at 6:44 AM on August 24, 2005

This is good news!
posted by OmieWise at 6:50 AM on August 24, 2005

Wonderful news. It all goes towards tearing down the prejudices and hatred of homophobia and heterosexism.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 6:52 AM on August 24, 2005

And the clock as started til we here the phrase "activist judges"...
posted by fluffycreature at 7:05 AM on August 24, 2005

or rather hear the phrase
posted by fluffycreature at 7:06 AM on August 24, 2005

Can I point out that appeals to common sense are meaningless, and that a kid can, indeed, have two moms (especially since we already allow children to have step-parents)?
Or would that be admitting that in having two parents, the genders of those parents (same or different) will lead to differences yet equal experiences in child-rearing?
posted by klangklangston at 7:10 AM on August 24, 2005

Well, that does it. California will have to secede.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:13 AM on August 24, 2005

and this will only help when the equal rights cases come before the Supreme Ct, hopefully.

Well, amberglow, at least it establishes the rule of equal responsibility. That's a start. That it also places the religious right in the difficult position of arguing against parental responsibility is lagniappe. Although it does feed the paranoid fears of the anti-government conservatives that:

The deadbeat dad is typically a fully responsible and loving father who has been divorced over his objections, whose children then have been taken with no evidence of wrongdoing on his part and who has been thoroughly plundered by a powerful machine of judges, lawyers, psychotherapists and enforcement bureaucrats. Once the state has seized control of his children, a father can be forced to pay almost any amount for attorneys? fees, psychotherapy and child support (which his children may never see); he can be summoned to court so often he loses his job; and he can be jailed without charge, trial or counsel.

Lunatic ravings are not the sole province of the religious right.
posted by three blind mice at 7:14 AM on August 24, 2005

Has the Liberty Counsel fundy trolls ever read their Bible? There are many instances of multiple "moms" in those families.

I suppose it goes back to their bumper sticker talking point of marriage equals one man plus one woman. Gotta keep it simple, stupid and wrong.
posted by nofundy at 7:19 AM on August 24, 2005

This seems sensible enough. I agree with it, even though I'm a bit anti-homosexuality. (I wouldn't call myself a homophobe... I am tolerant of it etc etc but I still think it's 'unnatural', if that word means anything. As far as I'm concerned whatever 2 consenting adults get up to is their business, however that doesn't stop me from thinking that it's weird. shrug).

I'm still not sure about the whole marriage thing when it comes to same-sex couples. I kinda like the idea of marriage being a heterosexual union, and think same-sex couples should have some other kind of union - if only for legal status. On the other hand it would be exactly the same as marriage in everything but name. So I guess there's no reason to object to it except for religion reasons which I really couldn't care less abount. Hmm.. maybe I'm pro same-sex marriage after all...

Can you be pro same-sex marriage but anti homosexuality? oh dear... seems like I have some things to work out.. hehe
posted by Jelreyn at 7:23 AM on August 24, 2005

That policy establishes that moms and dads as a unit are irrelevant when it comes to raising children.

As a unit, they are. Divorce has made it so. Gayness has nothing to do with it.

I used to know a girl who had two moms, and both were straight. Her birth parents divorced, her father got custody, he remarried, then died of a heart attack. Her original mom never remarried, so that makes two moms and zero lesbians. Now, by the Family Values Rulebook, is that an outrage, a proper family, an unfortunate situation, or all of the above?
posted by ToasT at 7:23 AM on August 24, 2005

I don't know if I'd be to happy about this if I was gay, to be honest.
posted by delmoi at 7:30 AM on August 24, 2005

The honest, truthful answer is that marriage should be pushed back into the church. Civilized society should deal with civil unions in its laws, and should never even mention marriage.

This allows homophobic people to be members of homophobic churches, and have heterosexual-couples-only marriages. They won't actually mean anything legally, but they'll be significant to the church. Just like it should be. If they want legal standing, they go down to the courthouse and get a civil union.

Civil unions would be available to anyone.

Of course, if you took this stance, you'd be for "killing marriage."
posted by odinsdream at 7:41 AM on August 24, 2005

Considering this story about stored sperm. If one lesbian in a same sex marriage goes out and makes a baby with a guy on the side, and the marriage breaks up over it, isn't the other lesbian responsible for child support?

Think of all the other weird permutations...
posted by Chuckles at 7:41 AM on August 24, 2005

After all, that's the reason everyone's having such a hard time dealing with this. It's the elephant in the room nobody's mentioning - the giant gaping hole in the wall between church and state.

It's forcing a mix of regular law and religion, which should never have occurred in the first place.
posted by odinsdream at 7:43 AM on August 24, 2005

Okay, maybe that one doesn't quite work... I'm sure you can find one that does though, maybe I'll come back to this later (by 'work' I mean consistent with the current legal logic of parental responsibility).
posted by Chuckles at 7:44 AM on August 24, 2005

I don't know if I'd be to happy about this if I was gay, to be honest.

And that's the thing delmoi. If the "gay agenda" was to piss on traditional values, promote promiscuity, irresponsibility, and the "if it feels good do it" way of living that the x-tian right fears, then gays and lesbians would be running away from gay marriage and parental responsibility faster than the heterosexuals who have been ruining "traditional values" quite well on their own without any help from the gay community. "Gay rights" implies "gay responsibilities" and isn't that what "traditional values" are really all about?
posted by three blind mice at 7:49 AM on August 24, 2005

Good, now that a responsibility has been said to exist a right can be inferred.

I wonder if Mathew Staver would be willing to pay for child support, since he obviously has a problem with "two moms" having/adopting a child, then splitting up and one of them providing for that child. Or should we just do a really late term abortion, in case some gay has rubbed off on the kid?

Love the scare quotes around the two moms bit though. The evil lesbians are coming to your neighborhood to destroy property values, oh no!
posted by Talanvor at 7:51 AM on August 24, 2005

I'm with you on that Odinsdream. A union for lawful purposes available to anyone that can legally enter into that contract, and marriages performed by religious/spiritual groups for effect but no legal standing.
posted by Talanvor at 7:53 AM on August 24, 2005

but I still think it's 'unnatural', if that word means anything.

Um, no it doesn't, not in this context. Or rather, it means something quite homophobic. So while you may not think of yourself as a homophobe, you might want to reconsider.
posted by OmieWise at 7:57 AM on August 24, 2005

Also, since this particular "unnatural" behavior happens with great frequency across the animal kingdom, I'm unsure how it can be characterized as such.
posted by agregoli at 7:59 AM on August 24, 2005

Well done, three blind mice. I had wanted to post about the good news myself, but it would have been a much weaker NewsFilter FPP. Has Schwarzenegger weighed in on the whole thing yet?

And people, give Jelreyn a break. At least he's trying to be open-minded. There's no sense in trying to deny people the right to be privately skeeved out by stuff that doesn't affect them, as long as they don't try to impinge on others' rights to do said stuff. I find it somewhat "unnatural" to eat turtles, but you sure don't see me waving protest signs at Chinatown.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:48 AM on August 24, 2005

non-dominate perhaps, but not unnatural.

(seems like anal sex (between heterosexuals) is more "unnatural" but there is not much of a religious hue and cry about that beyond the standard sodomy ... but-we-won't-say-what-we-mean, diatribe.
posted by edgeways at 8:55 AM on August 24, 2005

This is awesome news.
posted by bshort at 9:24 AM on August 24, 2005

This is good. If a child is born to gay parents, it is in the best interests of the child to have both parents have responsibilty for them in perpetuity. This give the children of gay parents the same rights as the children of straight parents. No matter what you think of gay couples, you must realize that this ruling is about providing for the KIDS. A child has the same needs no matter who their parents are.
posted by raedyn at 9:30 AM on August 24, 2005

Right on, odinsdream. I've been saying the same thing for years. I don't understand why more religious persons concerned with the sacred status of marriage don't profess similar opinions. Perhaps it's because the connection between the religious institution and the state institution is a powerful and useful political tool?

As for the FPP: way to go, California. Lead on.
posted by dilettanti at 9:33 AM on August 24, 2005

Actually, I think Jelreyn is on to something. I think sex is unnatural. Not just heterosexual and homosexual sex, but all sex. Don't get me wrong, I could do all day with the right person, but there's still something not quite normal about it.

Sort of like cousin Dell from Wild at Heart.
posted by cytherea at 9:35 AM on August 24, 2005

If a child is born to gay parents, it is....

It would also be impossible. I don't know much, but I do know you need a male and a female to create a child.

That said, two legal guardians/"parents" are always better than one.

Much of the rhetoric in opposition to gay parentage makes the mistake the of making the best the enemy of the good.

I don't see the connection here to gay marriage, though. It's almost like a legal bailment; legal guardians can be the same sex and have to take care of their ward.
posted by dios at 9:44 AM on August 24, 2005

By the way, you learn something every day. After reading the case, I was suprised to hear that one woman birthed the baby, but used the ovum of a different woman. I didn't realize they did that. Pretty tricky and creative to do it that way to make the biological link. In that circumstance, it would seem that the child had two natural parents: the man who provided the sperm and the woman who provided the ovum. The other woman, who birthed the child and has that special bilogical connection, could also have a claim to being a natural parent. But she could also be seen as a conduit/surrogate to deliver the baby of two others and more akin to an "adoptive" parent.

Regardless of how this turns out legally, its some pretty interesting stuff what they are doing.
posted by dios at 9:51 AM on August 24, 2005

This is a fantastic step in the gay rights' movement, as it shows all naysayers that gays are willing to take on ALL the responsibilities of "equal rights"--including the stuff that isn't so great.

And odinsdream, I have been saying the very same thing for a long time. I know they actually handle marriage that way in France, does anyone know if they do it in any other countries?
posted by scarymonsterrrr at 9:53 AM on August 24, 2005

"It would also be impossible. I don't know much, but I do know you need a male and a female to create a child."

I'm not sure what your point is, but it seems that you're confusing biology, which no one is discussing, with parentage, which is at issue. In the state of MD, for instance, if my wife has a baby, even if I'm not the biological father, I'm still considered the father and therefore the legal parent.
posted by OmieWise at 9:56 AM on August 24, 2005

It would also be impossible. I don't know much, but I do know you need a male and a female to create a child.

What a small minded person you are.

Hetero couples use a wide array of fertility treatments with increasing frequency. Are their children any less theirs because of medical assistance?
posted by bshort at 10:02 AM on August 24, 2005

It would also be impossible. I don't know much, but I do know you need a male and a female to create a child.

This smacks of the "homosexuality will end the species" fallacy. Homosexuality does not equate with sterility, gay kids are born to straight parents all the time, and sometimes you need a turkey baster.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:13 AM on August 24, 2005

Jelreyn, given your open-mindedness about civil unions, same sex marriage, gay parenting, etc., I suspect that you really aren't "anti-homosexual". You are probably just anti you being homosexual. I think that a lot of straight people think about "gays" and have these images of kissing another guy (or girl depending on gender) and just go "ewww" and it makes them feel uncomfortable. But when its more abstract and you are thinking about civil rights, then there isn't so much of an "ewww" factor because you aren't picturing yourself in the situation.

Fortunately, the Gay Agenda doesn't involve making you homosexual so you don't have anything to fear.

On the other hand, the my bisexual agenda involves making everyone be bi as it works out most conveniently for me that way. So don't worry about the gays, they are your friends. Just watch out for us greedy bi folk :)
posted by afflatus at 10:15 AM on August 24, 2005

This is great news. : )
posted by SisterHavana at 10:18 AM on August 24, 2005

Jelreyn, I recommend ethicist John Corvino's series of essays on the topic of homosexuality. I've used them in various ethics courses and I find they help students (on both sides of the issue) clarify and better articulate their respective positions.

On natural - vs- unnatural, I highly recommend this short piece.

More here, too.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:22 AM on August 24, 2005

It would also be impossible. I don't know much, but I do know you need a male and a female to create a child.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm fairly certain it's possible to create a child from two eggs, no sperm. Anybody?
posted by odinsdream at 10:30 AM on August 24, 2005

joe lisboa, thanks for those links.
posted by OmieWise at 10:39 AM on August 24, 2005

If a child is born to gay parents, it is....

It would also be impossible. I don't know much, but I do know you need a male and a female to create a child.

I think the only thing that irritates me about your posts is this constant insistance that a man and a woman are needed to create a baby. Well, duh, we're not idiots.

But surely you're not so obtuse as to not realize that there are far more than one way to have a kid - using techniques that millions of hetero people already do - IVF, surrogacy, etc.

It's just so boring to read that same sentence over and over again. We get it - you need sperm and an egg.

But a child can indeed be born to gay parents. To say otherwise is just plain wrong.
posted by agregoli at 10:46 AM on August 24, 2005

Maybe unnatural was a poor choice of word for describing my thoughts on homosexuality. It still weirds me out a bit, though I have friends who are gay and that's fine - as long as they're happy. I also have a male friend who grew up with 2 gay mothers, quite happily as far as I can tell.

As an aside, I've never really defined myself by my sexuality and always kinda think it weird that some people do. Sometimes I wonder why sexuality is an issue at all. Like why do people even care? Oh well.

As for same-sex marriage I think I'm agreeing with what odinsdream said. Have Civil Unions [or insert better sounding term here] the legal form for non-religious heterosexual and homosexual 'marriages', and leave marriage for religions to use. Makes sense to me. Wouldn't that keep everyone happy? That was same-sex unions enjoy the same status as hetero-sexual unions, whilst religious people enjoy the sanctity of marriage for people who care about that sort of thing.

And although I havent read those pieces yet I'll go ahead and read them now.

Actually now that I think about it, I think it's just anal-sex that weirds me out. I've never really gotten the idea of putting your penis up someone's butt.. *chuckle* either straight or gay... can't say I've tried it :) I mean eeww!!! hehe
posted by Jelreyn at 10:51 AM on August 24, 2005

Wouldn't that keep everyone happy?

Absolutely not. The first thing you'd see is religious fanatics claiming that "marriage is being destroyed!"

Fact is, these religious people* don't recognize their religion as one of many, they see it genuinely as a way of life, the only way of life. They expect their government to embrace it - if it doesn't, they yell "persecution!". So, to strip the concept of marriage from our laws, even if it does make logical sense, would raise the ire of people who don't even understand that marriage as a religious experience is distinctly different from "marriage" as a social contract.

* these religious people. not all religious people...
posted by odinsdream at 11:03 AM on August 24, 2005

me:If a child is born to gay parents, it is....

Dios:It would also be impossible. I don't know much, but I do know you need a male and a female to create a child.

*rolls eyes* I figured someone would bitch about that. As many other commenters have pointed out, there ARE kids born to gay parents. I know a handful of them. And there are gay and lesbian people who adopt, as well. Those kids deserve the same rights as everyother kid, no matter the number of penises their parents have (and regardless of where their DNA came from).
posted by raedyn at 11:10 AM on August 24, 2005

I've never really defined myself by my sexuality and always kinda think it weird that some people do. Sometimes I wonder why sexuality is an issue at all. Like why do people even care?

I don't know if I buy this Jelryn. As a heterosexual, I very much define myself by my sexuality, but because I belong to the dominant group is just seems like I don't. But I do. By your honest comments in this thread, it appears that you do too. It's totally natural.
posted by three blind mice at 11:12 AM on August 24, 2005

Jelryn: "As an aside, I've never really defined myself by my sexuality and always kinda think it weird that some people do."
That's called "heteronormativism" or "hetero priveledge." Because you're part of the majority, it's easy to assume that everyone else is like you, and thus consider those who agitate for equal rights whiners or troublemakers.
But... There I go with the identity politics again. They tend to get some people here riled up unnecessarily...
(says the white hetero male...)
posted by klangklangston at 1:34 PM on August 24, 2005

odinsdream: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm fairly certain it's possible to create a child from two eggs, no sperm.

A process has been developed to fertilize eggs with genetic information from any cell in the body, which would allow lesbians to have their own babies (girl babies only). Another new process being worked on would allow gay men to do the same (though they still need to borrow a uterus).

So if it isn't 100% possible at the moment, it likely will be in the near future.
posted by Orb at 1:36 PM on August 24, 2005

Right on, odinsdream. That's what I've been saying, too.

I'm going to be really interested to see how the rest of Conservativeland reacts to this. So many of them have been all a-squawk about how their positions on homosexuality and gay marriage come from their deep concern for children's wellbeing. Now, they'll be in the position of either having to embracing a gay-positive family law rule, or of explaining to their constitutents and the world at large why their idealogical stance is worth more to a child than a monthly support check. IMO, it'll be close to impossible.

And jelreyn, thanks much for your openness and your willingness to examine yourself. Though, I wouldn't focus too much about the anal sex thing. A lot of gay people (both women and men) are not into it at all, while a lot of straight people really, really are. Being squicked by that does not at all mean that you have to be squicked by gay folks.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:45 PM on August 24, 2005

I see this as a positive step, but anticipate fallout from conservatives, since this could make polygamy one step closer to acceptable. If non-biological parents have responsibilities, then shouldn't those who are the "third parent", and if so, shouldn't there be a right to marriage as well?

This thread is the first time I've read the term "heterosexism" too. It's a good word I suppose, but I bet conservatives cringe at the idea that being hetero doesn't come with any privileges anymore.
posted by jimmy76 at 4:55 PM on August 24, 2005

So Liberty Counsel is coming out in favour of abandoning babies (at least financially)... or are they just generally stating their distaste of personal responsibility on a broader, less specific level?

That sure would explain their relative silence on heterosexual deadbeats, adulterers and divorcees.
posted by clevershark at 7:04 PM on August 24, 2005

jimmy76, non-biological parents have always had responsibilities. Heterosexual couples that adopt children or conceive through some sort of genetic donor or surrogate, and the step-father or mother in an heterosexual couple have, for quite some time, had the same responsibilities that biological parents do.

This isn't a step towards polyamory--we're talking about two people. (Personally, I don't see anything wrong with a more collective situation. Except for the oppression that goes on in the patriarchal mormon variety. But this is a completely separate issue.)

You're probably right about the fear of privilege loss among some conservatives. But it's not like granting rights to others means a loss of rights to those who already have them. And really, isn't America, at heart, about a level playing field, at least in theory, if not in practice?
posted by cytherea at 10:50 PM on August 24, 2005

odinsdream - yes, this legal-contract / church-marriage idea does seem to make sense on the surface at least and is one I've been thinking of for a long while too, and yes jimmy76 this is the problem - there's nothing really to prevent the expansion of the legal-contract to basically every possible combination of individuals once the 'right to marriage' is determined to be a simple minority or individual rights issue.

Religion aside for a moment, under secular law the one-man one-woman arrangement is nothing more than convention. Once this until-now-accepted convention is ditched what principle determines where the non-oppressive limit is?

What could be wrong with three or more people forming a marriage if that's what they want and who could possibly have the right to deny them children either born to or assigned to? I mean without invoking some sort of prejudicial notion of what those kinds of people must be like...

Why should sex have anything to do with the legal definition of marriage at all? Why can't people have a marriage without sex involved, well they can already obviously. So, why can't a group of college students of various genders and orientations form a marriage for the tax and other benefits and then get divorced when they graduate? Who has the right to say they aren't really married, who decides? I'd suggest no one can under a strictly legalistic system. If they say they're married and sign the documents then they're married.

So, I'm not sure it's always mere prejudice or even homophobia that causes folks to argue against gay marriage. There does seem to be a logical inevitability to the notion that, left to the legal system alone, changes won't stop at gay marriage and that marriage as a legal entity could even self-destruct or at least become meaningless because there will be few people not in some kind of tax-smart marriage arrangement.
posted by scheptech at 1:25 AM on August 25, 2005

Scheptech: Well, one reason that college students wouldn't do it, at least in Michigan, is that it costs a lot of money to get divorced.
But I do know at least a couple of guys who have declared themselves "domestic partners" for the health care, and I support 'em (because fuck, man, health care is expensive!)
posted by klangklangston at 6:41 AM on August 25, 2005

basically every possible combination of individuals once the 'right to marriage' is determined to be a simple minority or individual rights issue.

I fail to see the slippery slope you do. Howsabout this at the top of the generic Civil Union Social Contract:

Person 1 of 2:_______
Person 2 of 2:_______

Hey look, we fixed the polygamy issue... that was easy. Everybody gets to enter into a civil union with one other person. You can't be in two civil unions at once.

... because there will be few people not in some kind of tax-smart marriage arrangement.

Which is why there shouldn't be special tax breaks for people who chose to enter into the civil union social contract, or marriage. Stop these problems at their source; trying to eliminate the results of the main problem isn't going to get you anywhere.

And really, is this the kind of "corruption" you're really worried about? Honestly.. if two people want to save a buck by entering into a contract that gives each of them a real share in eachothers' lives, who gets hurt? Yet, if No-Name Company decides to save a buck by paying off a congressman so that new regulations won't get passed into law, who gets hurt? Depends on the business... doesn't it, but I know which one I'd be worried about destroying civil society.
posted by odinsdream at 7:58 AM on August 25, 2005

Sure, polygamy will be easily avoided at first but the concern is the legal system, which is less value system and more logical network of inter-related ideas, will simply move on to polygamy once challenged over it. All that exists now is a convention, once set aside there's no logical reason to not allow polygamy just like there's no strictly logical reason to not allow gay marriage. What defense could be raised against polygamy that doesn't resemble the current arguments against gay marriage?

Ok well I used the word dilution not corruption. If the expansion of the idea of marriage stops with two adult gay people then no biggie (again setting religious issues aside) but if every possible grouping of people has the same tax break then it no longer exists in effect. Ok so toss it - but keep in mind it's purpose in the first place was a way for governments to engineer social policy. It was a way, maybe awkward and unfair, to transfer resources from the older to younger generations to encourage youngin's to form stable relationships and succesfully raise families, you know - keep the country growing, give children a break, keep families together, and all that.
posted by scheptech at 8:34 AM on August 25, 2005

I think it's interesting that if you mentioned the slippery slope argument (re: polygamy) before any of these legal change started happening around the world, you were likely to get shouted down as alarmist or crazy. Now that it is becoming law, it isn't hard to see the next step may be to accept polygamists.

To argue otherwise would require someone who supports gay marriage to say why three or more consenting adults shouldn't be permitted to form a legal union codifying recognizing their relationship. I doubt there are many people who could do that.
posted by jimmy76 at 9:39 AM on August 25, 2005

Somehow I doubt that the courts will be flooded with requests from people wanting to marry more than one person. Non-officially sanctioned polygamy isn't all that common anyway. If it's made legal to marry more than one person, it's not as if half the married couples are going to go nuts with it.

And, honestly, what's the specific harm in letting three or more consenting adults enter into a legal contract? That's all a marriage is right now, if all the dogmatic religious rhetoric is disregarded, a legal contract conferring specific rights and responsibilities. If all someone can point to is it'll somehow destroy society in some vague but apocalyptic way, then that's really not a counter argument.
posted by Talanvor at 11:33 AM on August 25, 2005

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