On Friday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law that will allow the state to recognize more than two legal parents for a child. Brown and his office would not reveal why Brown signed the bill after vetoing it last year.
State Senator Mark Leno, the bill’s author, said he was addressing new realities in family structure, noting some same-sex couples who have a child conceived with an opposite sex parent. He stated that the new law would ensure that custody and financial responsibility could be shared by three or more parents. Leno said:
Courts need the ability to recognize these changes so children are supported by the adults that play a central role in loving and caring for them. It is critical that judges have the ability to recognize the roles of all parents so that no child has to endure separation from one of the adults he or she has always known as a parent.
Ed Howard, senior counsel for the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law, added, “Everyone who places the interests of children first and realizes that judges shouldn’t be forced to rule in ways that hurt children should cheer this bill becoming law.”
But Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, an advocacy group for traditional families, harshly criticized Brown’s move. He said, “This is in the long run going to be a mistake. The ones who are going to pay the price are not the activists, but it’s going to be children, who will see greater conflict and indecision over matters involving their well-being.”
Dacus was echoed by the Capitol Resource Institute, which called the law detrimental to children. The group believes children do best with a biological mother and father, or with adoptive heterosexual couple parents.
One of the catalysts for the bill was a case in which one lesbian in a relationship was impregnated by a man, and later fought with her lesbian lover. One woman was jailed and the other went to the hospital, and the daughter wound up in foster care because the sperm donor did not have parental rights.