Thursday, November 20, 2008


I watched Thomas and Nancy Beatie on Barbara Walters last week. They described their struggle with the state of Oregon over how they would be identified on their child's birth certificate. They want Thomas listed as the father and Nancy listed as the mother. The hospital insisted that Thomas be listed as the mother, but eventually the state issued a birth certificate with Thomas and Nancy listed as "parent" and "parent."

They are still fighting to get Thomas designated as the father. Give me a break! Parent and parent is the designation that should go on ALL birth certificates! What makes this an insult? Yes, if the state insisted on listing Thomas as the mother, that I would have a problem with. But a gender neutral term?

And then there's his complaint about the advice he received from some (unnamed) gay rights legal groups. They advised the couple that Nancy should adopt their child. What do the Beaties say? That Nancy shouldn't have to adopt her own child. Well, welcome to the real world, where every day lesbian couples have children and the one who didn't give birth has to adopt that child to feel safe as the child's legal parent. Don't you think they all take offense at having to adopt their own children? Of course. But LGBT legal groups advise even those who marry in Massachusetts or Connecticut, or enter civil unions or domestic partnerships in other states (including Oregon!) that the nonbiological mom should adopt her child. That's because adoption is recognized everywhere, but a parent-child relationship created by a same-sex marriage or civil union or DP may be disregarded in gay-unfriendly states (and there's lots of those).

So why should Thomas and Nancy be different? Because Thomas transitioned and the couple went from being a lesbian couple to being a different-sex couple? I've pointed out that the couple's marriage won't be recognized everywhere...maybe not in most states. Nancy DEFINITELY needs to adopt that child...and the second have a solid status as the child's parent. Do I think it should be that way? No. I think the fact that Nancy consented to Thomas's insemination with the intent to be a parent of their child, an intent Thomas shared, should be enough to make her a parent. Marriage or no marriage. And the American Bar Association agrees. The ABA Model Act Governing Assisted Reproductive Technology would make her a parent. But wishing doesn't make it so. I'd be willing to defend Nancy's parental rights if anyone challenged them, but does she really want to take the chance it would come out wrong? Is it fair to her daughter? On a matter of principle? With the emotional and financial well-being of her daughter at stake?

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