On the day when the first wedding bells were ringing for gay marriages in my state, I wrote a post about how the push for “marriage equality” was not the end game for some gay marriage advocates, but rather the beginning of an unraveling of children’s rights on many fronts. The final paragraph of that post read:
Our new law is the beginning of significant legal challenges to the structure of family, especially as they relate to children. Examples include California’s narrowly defeated “three parents” law, France’s push to erase all references to “mother” and “father” from legal documents, and Quebec’s efforts to stamp out “heterosexism” (the idea that heterosexuality is normal). So while the definition of marriage has been redefined in our state, judging from states/countries that are further down this road, there are many more legal issues that will arise in the future. And if we continue to consider marriage to be primarily about adult emotional fulfillment, or tax benefits, or even the rights of adults, we will give the wrong answers to approaching legal challenges.
It is no surprise that the “three parent” law did eventually make its way into California law; we are talking about California after all. But wait! There is yet more opportunity for us to twist reality. Now, apparently, it is too insensitive to the adults involved in the raising of a child to solely allow the unenlightened terminology of “mother” and “father” to appear on the birth certificate. And that shall soon be remedied by proposed bill AB-1951, if Governor Jerry Brown signs it. This legislation recommends that we add the more sensitive gender-neutral option “parent” when recording the circumstances of a baby’s birth. That way two men or two women can both appear as “parents” on this critical identity document. One supporter of the bill remarked: “A child’s entry into the world should be celebrated, not marked by discrimination against the diversity of their family.”
Biology can be such bigot.
Birth certificates have served, across centuries and continents, to secure the facts of a child’s identity upon their first moments of life. Every child, without exception, has a beginning, a father, a mother, and a heritage. The birth certificate documents the details of his/her personhood- time and place or birth, parentage, and identifying characteristics. Children have a right to this information. Even the UN thinks so.
Heads up here people, I am on the same page with the UN.
As stated in articles 7 and 8 of the UN’s Convention on Children’s Rights, each child shall be “registered immediately after birth” and this “official record” safeguards the child’s “name, nationality, and family ties.” Birth certificates are critical in securing their rights and identity before social, cultural, or political forces threaten to alter or exploit a child’s identity. Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes: “…it’s a small paper but it actually establishes who you are and gives access to the rights and the privileges, and the obligations, of citizenship.”
The insanity of AB-1951 means that the birth certificates of some kids will not state the facts of their birth. Children will be wittingly denied their birthright by those who are supposed to have the very best interests of that child at heart. It won’t tell children “who they are,” it will tell them who adults wish them to be- the child of one or two biological strangers. No required connection to their linage. No opportunity for the 25 year old adult who knows darn well he was not conceived by two women to discover his male parentage. It gives adults the option of state-sanctioned denial of critical aspects of a child’s right to know and have access to his/her origins and biological roots- to their father and mother. Instead their parentage is determined by someone’s intent to parent. In other words; desire-based “facts.” It is a bill that centers the birth story on the adults’ emotions, and not the child’s truth. It takes us further down the path of children existing for the desire of adults, as opposed to adults orienting their lives around child rights and wellbeing.
My husband and I are listed as Mother and Father on my adopted son’s birth certificate and my heart breaks for him because of it. My sweet son was abandoned within hours of birth. This was followed by an unsuccessful search for his biological parents, 20 months of institutionalization, and the trauma of changing his entire known world. This is also known as a horror show for a sweet child that deserved better. There was no other choice for my boy and it is the only type of situation that warrants having non-biological adults listed as mother and father, and it was a rightly laborious process for us. Someday, when he wants to return to the place of his birth, the closest he will get is the corner of a city square. He will never know which boxes to check on his “family medical history” forms. He won’t know who he gets his nose from. Can you imagine the devastation you would experience as an adult child seeking your birthparent to find out the information was available but kept from you so that your legal records towed the politically correct line?
Validating the separation of a child from their biological parent(s) by simply checking a box is stealing something irreplaceable from the child. And this bill does exactly that.
Don’t sign it, Governor Brown.