Supporters of a California bill that would allow children to have more than two legally recognized parents say it would benefit kids, but social conservatives see it as a radical redefinition of family.
State senator Mark Leno of San Francisco has proposed the measure, S.B. 1476, which would allow three or more people to be recognized as parents. It would apply equally to men and women and to gay and straight couples.
The Sacramento Bee offers examples of parenting arrangements that the bill would make legal, such as a lesbian couple who had a male friend help them conceive a child and want him to be involved in the child’s upbringing, or a mother and stepfather who are a child’s legal parents but want to allow the biological father parental status as well.
“Designating multiple parents in such cases could enhance the child’s prospects for financial support, health insurance or Social Security benefits, thus reducing the state’s potential financial responsibility, supporters say,” according to the Bee. The paper also notes that the bill “is not meant to expand the definition of who can qualify as a parent, only to eliminate the limit of two per child.”
Leno explained, “The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today.”
The Traditional Values Coalition, an ultra-right-wing group, objects strenuously to the pending bill. It is an effort to “revamp, redefine and muddy the waters” of the nature of family by Leno, a supporter of same-sex marriage rights, says Benjamin Lopez, a legislative analyst for the group. (Leno happens to be gay.) “It comes as no surprise that he would try to say that a child has more than two parents — that’s absurd,” said Lopez.