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Who's your daddy?

The legal complications of gay marriage are finally starting to be explored, and as predicted, it's messy.

The other day, I heard on the radio the case of a lesbian couple who had a couple of children, then split up. The woman who kept the children (and who had bore them) sued her ex-partner for support. The county, who had been providing welfare for her and the twins (one with Downs syndrome), also thought she should kick in some money. Her response: I'm not the father. I have no biological connection to those kids. Leave me alone.

By her reasoning, then, man who provided the sperm should be on the hook for supporting the kids. Let that stand, and lesbians across the nation will suddenly find out their chances of becoming parents literally drying up as men start realizing that those couple of minutes of solitary entertainment (done in the spirit of generosity) could end up paying for it for the next 20 years or so -- and that's a mess no box of tissues could clean up.

I've said before I support gay marriage. To me, it's a matter of fairness and equality. But this case isn't about equality, it's about privilege. In essence, the woman wants the benefits of marriage, but none of the obligations.

There's a reason why the traditional marriage vows say "for better or for worse." Marriage is intended to be PERMANENT. And undoing a bond of that level should never be easy.

Especially if there are children involved.


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Comments (23)

Good post, I couldn't agree... (Below threshold)

Good post, I couldn't agree more.

Agreed, but this has less t... (Below threshold)

Agreed, but this has less to do with gay marriage and more to do with marriage and responsibility for children in general. People want perks without benefits. People are selfish.

Mark, in general you are co... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

Mark, in general you are correct but in this case the ex is using her homosexuality to get out of the responsibility. In a sense, she is attempting to use the legal system to determine that responsibility for the union, parenting and child-support be based on the sex of the father.

If this were to be found in favor of her then it is the courts basically saying marriage and parenthood CAN'T be between people of the same sex. That would be disasterous for what they are trying to accomplish.

Mark,I think that ... (Below threshold)
Ron:

Mark,

I think that this has everything to do with gay union, or at least the legal ramifications of such. You are right that people are selfish, but the law provides guidelines and has precedent for this situation in a traditional marriage.

I could care less whether two men or two women decide to wed, bu they must face the same consequences as traditional married couples, as defined by the law. If they do not, there whole struggle for "equality" would be worthless.

EVERYBODY wants the 'benefi... (Below threshold)

EVERYBODY wants the 'benefits' of marriage without the responsiblity.

There should be a designated 'mom' and 'pop'.

Mom gets the kids.

Pop pays.

Ain't that how it's ALWAYS been?

Maybe we should assign levels of responsiblity and let the lawyers sort it out.

OR ... maybe, just maybe, we should make it more difficult to GET MARRIED and HAVE CHILDREN.

Naw...that'll NEVER work. Too easy.

You just gotta question the... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

You just gotta question the intelligence of anyone that doesn't ask their partner to legally adopt the child and the willingness to accept responsibility of any partner that needs to be asked. If the partner ever had any intentions of taking on the responsibility of parenthood she would have filed to legally adopt as soon as the child was born. Not doing so left the kid in limbo in the event of the death of the birth mother. It sounds like to me the birth mother wasn't thinking ahead but her partner certainly was.

Such a weighty issue, so mu... (Below threshold)
JEW:

Such a weighty issue, so much to say, so little space. Suffice it to say, this is the reason the nuclear family, one female mother, one male father and, a child is the “best” solution for the children. That is what we want isn’t it? What is best for the children?

I wonder how common law mar... (Below threshold)

I wonder how common law marriage laws apply to something like this?

Mustang, in most states if ... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

Mustang, in most states if only one person is a natural parent unless the other "parent" legally adopts they have no financial responsibility or parental rights and that doesn't change even if they are legally married.

I'll see if I can find a li... (Below threshold)
Mike:

I'll see if I can find a link to the case, but I recall hearing (on the radio) of a case approx. 1 month back that ruled on a very similar issue.

A married woman somehow convinced a man who was not her husband to impregnate her with the stipulation that he wouldn't have any obligations to the child. When the child was born, the woman's husband was named as the father on the birth certificate. Fast forward 4 years, the woman and her husband have now divorced. The woman sues the child’s biological father for child support and back child support. The court rules that the child has rights to support from it biological parents which cannot be waived by another party. With apparent contempt for the woman, the court ruled in her favor awarding child support even while finding that there was a verbal agreement between the biological parents that no support would be required.

- Mike

yeah how can you not agree ... (Below threshold)
neil:

yeah how can you not agree with JEW...marriage, divorce and child custody should all be retained only for relationships between a man and a woman...its the natural way

,...these fags and lesbos cant even manange to life a normal life themselves...how can you expect them to do the right thing with children

pay no attention to neil, h... (Below threshold)
Mike:

pay no attention to neil, he is trying his best to use sarcasm to say we are all sexists and anti-gay.

This case offers some insight into the problems gay marriage or civil unions have, and the biological considerations the courts usually side with, when making child custoday/support rulings. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

I would tend to agree that the mother should have had her partner adopt the children right after their birth. There will be ramifications no matter how the court rules on this one. It would seem that this other woman should be paying support to her partner.

You know she is making the ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

You know she is making the case for the anti gay marriage folks who argue that marriage is about children, not about who you are having sex with.

I think given the push/desire for gay marraige and civil unions and the ability to create children outside the natural way, that the law is going to have to deal with these issues. There have also been cases of lesbian couples where one partner has sought visitation after a seperation and been denied, because of the lack of biological connection.

These are some tough questions, but the woman in this case isn't helping her cause any, and is giving the other side ammunition to support their argument.

How is this case any differ... (Below threshold)
frameone:

How is this case any different from a case between , say, a remarried heterosexual couple with a step father or step mother?

Has there ever been a case when a step-father/step-mother argued: "I'm not the father/mother. I have no biological connection to those kids. Leave me alone"?

Has there ever been a case when a step-father/step-mother was denied visitation because he/she had no biological connection to the children?

This case doesn't seem any "messier" than a lot of scenarios that go down every day between men and women in family court. What's the big deal? Divorce happens and things can get ugly regardless of the sexuality of the couple involved.

Couple of things:1... (Below threshold)

Couple of things:

1) I note this is a California case, and California doesn't officially recognize gay and lesbian marriage. The result might have been different in, say, Massachusetts.

2) Here's how I think the issue should be dealt with:

It seems to me that there are two societal aspects to the institution of marriage: the legal and the communal. The legal aspect is the one that the state has an interest in because the state doesn't want its courts clogged with litigation over, for example, who has rights in a deceased person's estate, or who has obligations of support, or who has family status for purposes of access to hospital patients. The state is interested in such things as an orderly property rights system and clear guidelines about obligations to support a cohabiting partner, but the state doesn't (or at least shouldn't) have any interest in whether a particular relationship has or has not been solemnified, whether in a religious setting or civil ceremony.

The communal aspect of marriage, on the other hand, has to do with how the relationship between cohabiting partners is regarded and respected by the community of persons to which the partners belong. This aspect is where the religious traditions of marriage reside, and it is of minimal, if any, concern to the state.

Taking a cue from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 22, I have concluded that on the issue of marriage, whether conventional or same-sex, society should “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's.” That is, the notion of legal rights and obligations should be separated from the notion of “marriage” as a status in the community.

As I envision it, the state would issue a domestic partnership license to any two people who meet the state's requirements as to competency and whatever other criteria it may reasonably apply. Couples who have received such a license would have the status of “domestic partners,” which would confer on the partners all the legal rights, privileges and obligations that are currently associated with marriage. Having received such a certificate, those couples who wished to be “married” could either participate in a civil ceremony as a public expression of their domestic partnership or could go to a religious leader for a marriage ceremony that would fulfill whatever requirements that particular religion establishes to solemnify the couple's joining in matrimony. The status of domestic partnership would arise immediately upon issuance of the license and would not be affected in any way by any later marriage ceremony, or lack of one. In the case of same-sex marriages, if the domestic partners belong to or can find a religious group that would sanction such relationships, more power to them, but such sanction would have no effect on the legal rights and obligations of the domestic partners.

Dissolution of the domestic partnership would be accomplished in much the same way as a marriage is dissolved today. On the communal side, divorce or dissolution or annulment would be accomplished pursuant to the relevant religious laws, but would have no effect one way or the other on the legal rights of the parties – only the dissolution of domestic partnership could affect those rights and obligations.

This case is not complicate... (Below threshold)
McCain:

This case is not complicated at all. Who would imagine adoptive parents using that argument to avoid child support-- that they aren't the biological parent, blah blah.... Silly nonsense.

This is actually a good case for gay marriage, since with marriage comes both the perks and responsibilities of parentage. With gay marriage, support would be no issue at all. But even without marriage, we solve these deadbeat parent problems all the time.

This example is weak and illustrative of almost nothing.

It's just too bad that as m... (Below threshold)
IcallMasICM:

It's just too bad that as much as people want to write laws to fit their whims they can't write the laws of nature. The partner has no biological connection and never could. Is that

'a matter of fairness and equality.' halfwit?

Really frameone?Th... (Below threshold)
DavidB:

Really frameone?

The childern were born to a couple after they, the key word there, decided to have children. It was a decision made by both and agreed to by both. The "parent" that decided to leave the relationship has just as much responsibility as a biological parent in a traditional marriage.

Here is an example for you. Let's say Jack and Jill want children but Jack's little swimmers aren't up to snuff. So they go the artificial route and have a child. The resulting child is the responsibility of both parents and if a divorce occurs the father/parent/partner is responsible for the maintenance for that child.

This scenario is different from yours. Remarried couples, when one has no biological link to the children, the non-biological parent has no responsibility to those children unless they adopt them. Quite a bit different and your using this example misses the point.

That being, this couple, as many couples do, decided to have children. Now because they have split one has decided not to provide support for the children. This person should be held accountable as any deadbeat parent would and should pay the full price if they choose not to.

In the wonderful state of California that includes garnishment of wages for failure to pay, denile of license renewal, any license including professional licenses, and yes even jail time.

Now that would be interesting! Wonder how the feminists would handle that?

Mark, in general you are... (Below threshold)
Sean:

Mark, in general you are correct but in this case the ex is using her homosexuality to get out of the responsibility.

No, she is attempting to use her gender to get out of responsibility. Courts have dealt with this issue before, just not in this situation. The courts will follow the law as defined by cases of impotent/sterile men married to women who use donated sperm to become pregnant.

Having a biological father be responsible for the child just because he donated the sperm is assinine. I hope anyone donating at sperm banks uses a fake name, otherwise you're on the hook for child support. See how silly that is?

maybe, just maybe, we sh... (Below threshold)
mantis:

maybe, just maybe, we should make it more difficult to GET MARRIED and HAVE CHILDREN.

Naw...that'll NEVER work. Too easy.

Yeah, it would be easy to get people to stop having kids. Hey, how about mandatory vasectomies?!

There has been cases a few ... (Below threshold)
DelphiGuy:

There has been cases a few years ago where after a couple with a child divorced, the father took a paternity test and found out he wasn't the father of their kid.
You might imagine that as a non-biologiccal parent, he would evade the child support, but no, he was made to pay support for a kid that wasn't his own simply because he had taken up the role of being the kids father.

I'm not sure the issue is about gay marriage. How would this play out in the case of common law marriage where one partner brings kids into the arrangement?
The same logic could apply since this woman had assumed the role of being a parent knowing that she wasn't biologically connected.

How is this case any dif... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

How is this case any different from a case between , say, a remarried heterosexual couple with a step father or step mother?

#1 The lesbian couple decided as a couple to have children-this isn't a matter of a lesbian taking up with her lesbian partner that already has children. These two women together decided to have children.

#2 In cases where homosexuals are concerned, they are incapable as a coupld of biologically creating the baby, so they have to look outside their partnership for some help (women can get a sperm donor, men would need a surrogate mother). But they together decide to bring a life into the world.

The woman in this case is trying to argue that she isn't responsible for the child, since she is not biologically related to the child. The biologically related parents are the other woman in the relationship and the sperm donor. I think in this case the sperm donor has no financial obligation to the baby-the sperm donor was helping the two women bring the life into the world, not taking responsiblity for it.

'#1 The lesbian couple deci... (Below threshold)
IcallMasICM:

'#1 The lesbian couple decided as a couple to have children-this isn't a matter of a lesbian taking up with her lesbian partner that already has children. These two women together decided to have children.'

Umm...these two didn't have children. One of them had a child. Just because Margaret Marshall says cats are dogs and dogs are cats that doesn't make it so.

'#2 In cases where homosexuals are concerned, they are incapable as a coupld of biologically creating the baby, so they have to look outside their partnership for some help (women can get a sperm donor, men would need a surrogate mother). But they together decide to bring a life into the world.'

The first sentence contradicts the last - one of the women had nothing to do with bringing a child into the world.




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