Your child is only your child when the government says so.

A little girl in New York is in foster care, even though her father is a perfectly fit parent.  The court will not even recognize him as her father. How is this possible, you ask?

The little girl’s mother is in a same sex union. The girl is in foster care, because of  neglect petitions pending against both the mother and her lover. Although the five-judge panel agreed that the fact that the child was in foster care was “relevant” and “concerning,” they nevertheless denied the father’s request to prove his fatherhood.

In the court’s logic, this man “merely donated sperm, belatedly asserting parental rights.”

In other words, he is not a father unless we say so.

The news stories about this case focus on its implications for “Marriage Equality.” The Daily Beast story has a sub-headline: “judges rule in favor of marriage equality over biology in case of 3-year-old girl.” A Canadian paper, The National Post describes the case this way:

Without legal advice, Christopher and the women drew up a contract in which he waived any claims to paternity, custody or visitation, and the women waived any claim to child support. But troubles arose, and they disagreed on Christopher’s access to the child…In April 2015, Christopher went to court, seeking an order for a paternity test, and later for custody of the child.

The Post is not too clear on what “troubles arose.” We get a clue, from the court documents (page 18), which The Daily Beast cited only in passing, that the child has been in foster care for a lengthy “period of time” since the 2015 hearing.

Perhaps this explains why he “belatedly asserted parental rights.” Maybe he saw what the child welfare authorities eventually saw. These women were neglecting the seven-month-old child.

Christopher volunteered his sperm as a “humanitarian gesture” to two women who were family friends. He evidently absorbed the Grand Gay Narrative that assures us:

  • biology is overrated: any two people who love each other and the child are just as good as any others and,
  • lesbians make the best parents ever.

If the Grand Gay Narrative is true, a man might logically conclude that donating his sperm could be a “humanitarian gesture.”  He might well believe that agreeing in advance to stand down from active fatherhood was a fine thing to do, costless to himself and his child, and beneficial to these two women.

The problem is that the Grand Gay Narrative is false. Biology does matter, both parents and children care about their biological connections. Being raised by a same sex couple does present risks to kids, compared with being raised by one’s own biological parents. The people who say otherwise base their opinion on highly suspect, cherry-picked data, from small unrepresentative samples. Frankly, most of it is highly publicized junk science.

Neither of these women has pulled herself together enough to have the little girl returned to her care. I was a foster parent in San Diego. I know that child welfare agencies try to give parents every opportunity to reunify with their children. If the child has been in foster care “for a lengthy period of time,” these two women must be bad news. Christopher was trying to be a nice guy in 2014 when he donated the sperm. He has been trying to be a responsible father since April 2015 when he first petitioned the court.

Isn’t this how we want men to behave toward the children they sire?

The five-judge panel was not interested.

“We believe that it must be true that a child born to a same-gender married couple is presumed to be their child… A paternity test for an outsider, who merely donated sperm, belatedly asserting parental rights, would effectively disrupt, if not destroy, this family unit and nullify the child’s established relationship with the wife, her other mother. Testing in these circumstances exposes children born into same-gender marriages to instability for no justifiable reason other than to provide a father-figure for children who already have two parents.” (emphasis added.)

News flash to the judges: a child in foster care is already “exposed to instability.” Is letting her father be involved more disruptive than foster care?

The court’s ruling does not protect the child’s best interests. Their ruling circles the wagons to protect the Grand Gay Narrative.

“Marriage Equality” advocates assured us that removing the gender requirement from marriage was only a matter of making same sex couples the legal equivalent of opposite sex couples. This case shows that “Marriage Equality” creates a whole round of new inequalities. Some fathers are permitted to be involved in their children’s lives. Others are not: the law actively blocks Christopher from his own child. Some children have a legally recognized right to their fathers. Others, like this little girl, do not.

She only has the parents the government allows her to have. And that is way too much power for any government.

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. is the Founder and President of the Ruth Institute. They recently released their special report, Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage upholds equality for children.  

Originally published at The Stream, on February 9, 2018, under the title: “New York Court: A Girl’s Right to Her Father Doesn’t Matter. Protecting ‘Marriage Equality’ Does.” 

Authentic Reproductive Justice

“Reproductive Justice.”

“Reproductive justice” is generally code for “abortion on demand and without apology.”  I propose we talk about “authentic reproductive justice,”  which means justice for the child.

Justice for children means that every child conceived has a right to be welcomed into life. The financial condition or age or belief systems of their parents are irrelevant. Equality for children means every child is treated the same from conception until birth: cared for by their parents, and welcomed into life.

Real Social Justice Warriors

The shallow concept of “Reproductive Justice” that we have currently enshrined in our laws cannot last for even a single generation. Sure, men and women may be more equal in education and income. But, children whose parents get married and stay married have immeasureable advantages over children whose parents divorce or never marry. The differences among the rich and the poor, the educated and the less educated, increase in the subsequent generation.

Equality and justice for children means that every child has a right to a relationship with both of their natural parents, unless some unavoidable tragedy prevents it.  Death, mental illness, serious illness, these tragedies separate children from their parents. Desertion, abuse, incarceration: the parent left behind may have no responsible choice other than keeping their children away from their other parent.

No-fault divorce: a structural injustice to the child.

“I don’t want to have a relationship with your other parent.”

“My relationship with my new sex partner is more important to me than my relationship with your other parent.”

“My new life and vision of myself is more important to me than my relationship with you.”

These are not unavoidable tragedies. These are acts of injustice by one parent perpetrated on their children and their spouse.

But you may ask, what do these have to do with “reproductive justice?” The concept of Authentic Reproductive Justice means that each parent commits to spending a lifetime in a relationship with the other parent that allows their child to have a functioning, supportive relationship with both of them.

That means:

  • treating the child’s other parent with respect: after all, the other parent is half of who your child is. If you disrespect the child’s other parent, you are disrepecting at least half of your child.
  • making sure your child can spend time with his or her other parent.
  • giving the child’s other parent significant input into all major decisions regarding the child’s life and upbringing.
  • supporting, not undermining the other parent’s authority and status in the child’s eyes.
  • having such a relationship with the other parent before even giving birth.
  • choosing the other parent carefully enough that spending a lifetime co-parenting is an imaginable and even joyful prospect.
  • and since all forms of contraception sometimes fail, only choosing to have sex with individuals whom you can treat according to the above criteria.
Authentic Reproductive Justice: Take your marriage seriously.

In other words, Authentic Reproductive Justice, which takes account of the human rights of the mother, the father and the child means:

  • get married
  • stay married
  • have sex only with your spouse
  • love your spouse

Our current understanding of “reproductive justice” that only considers “equality” between men and women, or “equality” in education, jobs and money is a superficial, dim shadow of Authentic Reproductive Justice. This is a technocratic vision, focused solely on material things.

Authentic Reproductive Justice focuses on the more humane, deeper realities of relationships, identity and love.

I can only think of one social philosophy that endorses this deeper concept of justice, and that provides the tools to bring it about: the Ancient Teachings of Christianity. One man, one woman, for life.  If you are a Christian, especially if you are a Catholic Christian, please respect what Jesus is trying to do for us. Embrace it. Live it. Be grateful for it. Matthew 19. Mark 10.