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Same-sex parent rulings spark debate in California
By Cheryl Wetzstein
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
August 24, 2005
A trio of new California court rulings that say two women can be a child's parents have shocked traditional-values advocates and encouraged homosexual-rights groups.
"We perceive no reason why both parents of a child cannot be women," the California Supreme Court said in one of three cases involving lesbian parental rights.
Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families in California, protested the rulings. "Despite junk science and frustrating rulings like this, children still need a mother and a father," he said, urging support for a ballot initiative to define marriage in the California Constitution as the union of a man and a woman.
However, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) called the rulings "a tremendous victory for children, parental responsibility and for common sense."
"[C]hildren born to same-sex couples must be treated equally to other children, and thus have a legally protected relationship to both partners," said Courtney Joslin, an NCLR lawyer who argued one of the cases.
The three cases involved questions of parental responsibility after lesbian couples broke up:
• In Elisa B. v. Superior Court, a lesbian argued that because she wasn't the parent of her ex-partner's twins, she shouldn't have to pay $1,815 a month in court-ordered child support.
The high court unanimously disagreed, saying: "A woman who agreed to raise children with her lesbian partner, supported her partner's artificial insemination using an anonymous donor, and received the resulting twin children into her home and held them out as her own, is the children's parent ... and has an obligation to support them."
• In K.M. v. E.G., a lesbian sought custody and visitation rights for twins born -- using her ova -- to an ex-partner. The court ruled, 4-2, in favor of the plaintiff, saying: "When partners in a lesbian relationship decide to produce children in this manner, both the woman who provides her ova and her partner who bears the children are the children's parents."
• In Kristine H. v. Lisa R., a lesbian mother argued that a judgment naming her ex-partner as a parent of the child she bore when they were partners be set aside. The court unanimously denied the request, saying that "it would be unfair" to the ex-partner and the child to invalidate a judgment that the couple had both wanted and "enjoyed" until they broke up.
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese applauded the rulings, saying, "All parents should have the same responsibilities to children during a relationship and after one ends."
But Alliance Defense Fund lawyer Jordan Lorence said the court "devalued" the role of mothers and fathers by "saying anyone can be a child's parent."
Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council, sees an "obvious implication" of the Monday rulings to same-sex "marriage."
Courts increasingly are treating homosexual relationships as identical to marriage, even in the absence of any law legalizing same-sex "marriage" in a state, he said. "This is an illustration of the problem we have with judicial activism -- with judges taking it upon themselves to redefine the law, rather than leaving that to the legislature, whose proper task it is."
It also raises "a real slippery-slope question," Mr. Sprigg said. "If we are detaching parenthood from biology altogether, then what is to prevent a child from having three parents?"
LA Times Editorial: A more legal union