"Friday, November 4, 2005
Court redefines parenthood
By Lornet Turnbull
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Washington Supreme Court established what amounts to a new category of parents -- one that's the legal equivalent of moms and dads -- when it ruled Thursday that a lesbian who was neither the biological nor adoptive parent of a girl she helped raise has co-parenting rights to the child.
The decision, which significantly impacts parenting laws in the state, may also signal the direction the high court will take in deciding a gay-marriage lawsuit pending before it -- a prospect that delights same-sex marriage advocates and horrifies opponents.
In the 7-2 decision hailed by gays as an acknowledgement of the complexity of families, the court recognized what it called a "de-facto or psychological parent" under the state's common law as one who "in all respect functions as the child's actual parent."
The attorney for Page Britain, the child's biological mother, warned that the ruling strips away parental authority, setting the stage for any adult who helps raise a child -- from roommates to live-in lovers -- to make parental claims. He will recommend his client appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.
Writing for the majority, Justice Bobbe J. Bridge said, "In the face of advancing technologies and evolving notions of what comprises a family unit, this case causes us to confront the manner in which our state ... defines the terms 'parents' and 'families.' "
She said neither the U.S. nor state Supreme Court has ever restricted the definition of parent or family by biology. "Today we hold that our common law recognizes the status of de-facto parents and places them in parity with biological and adoptive parents in our state," she wrote.
In regard to common law, the ruling said, "the courts will endeavor to administer justice according to the promptings of reason and common sense, which are the cardinal principles of the common law."
Six other states also recognize de-facto parents."
I really really wish women would stop doing this. Going into court to decide these issues has the potential to build up a state-by-state erosion of the laws protecting the rights of all other mothers, particularly single mothers. Don’t women understand that these defacto parenting decisions are simply being used to undermine the rights of ALL mothers.
All mothers are at risk when Judges are empowered to decide who should be the other parent of our children, if anyone at all. Since, yes, the ultimate decision by a mother can be that she doesn’t want another person to be given decision-making power over her child’s life. Sadly in today’s world with so many competing interests in children and not all for good, a mother could decide it’s in her child’s best interest that she and she alone be the final arbitrator concerning said child.
The Jerica Rhodes case is a perfect example of how leaving these sorts of decisions to a Judge undermines the rights of not just the mother, but the child as well, leaving them at the mercy of total strangers really.
Now there is another state in the union that has taken that right away from a mother and given it to a Judge to make that decision. Additionally the article tells us six other states now have similar laws on the books which recognize defacto parents. Between defacto parents, step persons now demanding rights as psychological parents, five million grandparents now with custody of other mothers’ children, where in the heck are we heading with this if it continues?
Of course, this is all the result of men trying to be in charge of everything again. I understand that the latest census showed 36% of children were born this year to single women. Yet rather then accept that irreversible fact and begin thinking of ways to assist those mothers and their children achieve their full potential as citizens; instead, men set up these sorts of legal situations and empowering of other women to act as surrogates for men (such as step persons or grandparents) so mothers have more of their rights eroded.
Because make no mistake about it, men are behind this, in spite of the lesbian lead. Since the question has to be asked as to the why of giving legal standing to a lesbian in bringing a case like this to court?
Especially since the Washington State Supreme Court was the author of the Troxel decision, which wouldn’t even give a grandparent overnight visitation. NOW you are giving some unrelated person parental rights?
So again why?
In my opinion, this is because it’s the perfect setup to get what amounts to an anti-mother ruling advanced, while appearing to be ‘assisting’ some individual woman. As who can argue the point now that this ruling MIGHT ultimately negatively impact every other mother, after it helped just one.
We saw this recently in New Jersey last May, when the court there allowed one unrelated woman to be placed on the birth certificate of her partner’s child, when she could have waited the six months or so that it would have taken an adoption to go through and had the same result. Using the ‘best interest of the child’ standard Superior Judge Patricia Medina Talbert of Newark granted the unrelated lesbian immediate parental rights to her partners’ child.
Women don’t seem to understand that building up case law that it’s in a child’s best interest to have two parents on a birth certificate, EVEN if it’s a child conceived by lesbians through artificial insemination with an anonymous donor, can one day translate into it ALWAYS being in a child’s best interest to have two parents on EVERY birth certificate.
Thus having the result of no more women being allowed to use anonymous donor insemination, as two people will ALWAYS have to be on a birth certificate. While at the same time, empowering Judges with the right to make the decision to place someone on your child’s birth certificate, even if you are AGAINST it.
It is clear now that lesbians from New Jersey to Washington State are in the vanguard here, being used by the legal system to advance an anti-mother agenda. Thus, if they continue to take these cases to court, we will eventually see a string of states which have eroded the rights of all mothers (both gay and straight) and hindered us from protecting our children’s best interest.