Out: Two mommies. In: Three mommies, five daddies and a state gone wild
Social conservatives have long predicted that the drive to redefine the family unit would inevitably lead to the normalization of ever more extreme permutations of the nuclear family. First it was the 1992 pushback against the TV character Murphy Brown consciously deciding to have and raise a child as a single parent. Then it was dismay over the spate of "two mommies" and "two daddies" books and shows in the 2000s.
Progressives mocked the social conservative fear that once society discards the mommy-daddy-child archetype, we are opening a Pandora's Box. Ha ha ha, you Neanderthal rubes, mocked the liberals. Stop with your fear-mongering; you're just terrified of progress!
But today we found out: The social conservatives were right all along:
California bill would allow a child to have more than two parents
Mom and Dad, same-sex couples or blended families, California law is clear: No more than two legal parents per child.
When adults fight over parenthood, a judge must decide which two have that right and responsibility – but that could end soon.
State Sen. Mark Leno is pushing legislation to allow a child to have multiple parents.
"The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today," the San Francisco Democrat said.
Surrogate births, same-sex parenthood and assisted reproduction are changing society by creating new possibilities for nontraditional households and relationships.
Benjamin Lopez, legislative analyst for the Traditional Values Coalition, blasted Leno's bill as a new attempt to "revamp, redefine and muddy the waters" of family structure by a leader in the drive to legalize gay marriage.
"It comes as no surprise that he would try to say that a child has more than two parents – that's absurd," said Lopez, whose group calls itself a leading voice for Bible-based values.
Under Leno's bill, if three or more people who acted as parents could not agree on custody, visitation and child support, a judge could split those things up among them.
SB 1476 is not meant to expand the definition of who can qualify as a parent, only to eliminate the limit of two per child.
SB 1476 stemmed from an appellate court case last year involving a child's biological mother, her same-sex partner, and a man who had an affair with the biological mother and impregnated her while she was separated temporarily from her female lover.
Opponents counter that the issue is complex and that allowing multiple parents in one section of law inevitably raises questions that could spark litigation in other sections.
Tax deductions, citizenship, probate, public assistance, school notifications and Social Security rights all can be affected by determinations of parenthood, notes the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists.
"This bill, in our opinion, if passed, will cause significant unintended consequences," said Diane Wasznicky, the group's president and a family law attorney in Sacramento.
Assemblyman Donald Wagner, an Irvine Republican who opposes SB 1476, noted it could spark litigation, say, in a case of a wrongful death of a child with four potential parents and determining who has a claim.
Karen Anderson, of the California Protective Parents Association, said the legislation could result in a child being bounced among multiple adults in a bitter family breakup.
"It's hard enough for children to be split up two ways, much less multiple ways," she said.
Next up: Group marriages and group parenting.
Then: "It takes a village."
End game: Brave New World.