Totally unnecessary

There is a rather heartbreaking article in the Times magazine today about a lesbian couple where one partner supplied eggs to be implanted in the second's womb.  Because they did it as a normal in vitro process, as if the partner who was carrying the child had simply found an egg donor and then gone to the sperm bank, the first partner waived "paternity" rights to the children, even though she and her partner intended to raise them together (although the carrying partner planned to become a single mother either way).  Six years later, the partner who carried the children (even though they were genetically the other partner's offspring) started getting paranoid about her claim to the children, which eventually ended the relationship.  She moved away with the children, and cut off all communication with partner #1, who has been unsuccessful in finding any legal recourse because A) the marriage laws don't apply (although they were domestic partners), and B) the courts are not applying the paternity standards they do in disputes of this sort involving heterosexual couples, but rather treating it as a case of pure strangers. 

It quite effectively raises one of the more unsung arguments in favor of gay marriage.  Simply that gay people are not going to stop having relationships, sharing property, and sometimes having children any time soon.  In fact, it is only going to become more common and more a part of the fabric of everyday society.  The only question is how long we are going to allow them to suffer in the hands of a legal code that has no definitions and no protections for those families.  How long we are going to stand back while judges contort themselves into endless legal knots trying to define who's a "father" and a "mother" while ultimately, it is the children who get screwed, as the Times story makes abundantly clear.  New slogan for the gay marriage folks: Won't anyone think of the children?

Viewed from that perspective, I think it is a nice distillation of how the conservative mind works vs. the liberal mind (and, to be fair, many of the better libertarians minds).  Liberals, regardless of their actual personal feelings about homosexuality, see a gap between the law and the lives of those people the law is supposed to serve, and want to rectify it, because it causes life to be messy and cruel.  Conservatives on the other hand, think if we just stick our heads in the sand, maybe the problem won't go away, but at least we'll have stuck it to someone good.  It is a remarkably callous attitude to have at the helm of a government and god help us all it goes away soon.  I mean, we're tryin to have a freakin' civilization here.

One more point.  Partner #2 who took the children declined to be interviewed for the piece, so its a bit hard to talk about her side of the story.  Nonetheless, I think its safe to speculate that the lack of reasonable family laws for gay people had a larger effect in this case.  Partner #2 was determined to be a single mother before Partner #1 came into her life and then actually bore the children.  Surely she thought about how priorities must change when you have kids, and that she couldn't continue to let her children believe their mother, her "girlfriend" was always going to be around.  She had to think of herself as a single mother and cut her losses.  Certainly a lot of gay families get over that insecurity just fine, but its no way to build an environment for stable families.  Then again, maybe the conservative types are deluded enough to think they'll pass that "no children for gays" law one of these days.


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