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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Little-noticed Pennsylvania case gives child 3 legal parents

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Did a little-noticed spring judicial ruling in Pennsylvania possibly help lay the initial groundwork for legalized polygamy?

A recent op-ed columnist in The New York Times thinks it might have.

In a column titled, “When 3 Really Is a Crowd,” Elizabeth Marquardt of the Institute for American Values wrote about a case from April in which a Pennsylvania appeals court panel unanimously ruled that a child can have three legal parents — two moms (separated lesbians) and a dad (the sperm donor). The case, Jacob v. Shultz-Jacob, essentially focused on child support payments — the man was made a legal parent over his objections — but the case nevertheless is dangerous in its possible precedence, Marquardt said. Although in this example all three legal parents live separately, in other instances, Marquardt noted, “the three adults might want to live together.”

“As one advocate of polygamy argued in Newsweek, ‘If Heather can have two mommies, she should also be able to have two mommies and a daddy,'” she wrote. “If more children are granted three legal parents, what is our rationale for denying these families the rights and protections of marriage? America, get ready for the group-marriage debate.”

Many homosexual activists have long argued that “gay marriage” and polygamy are unrelated issues, and often have scoffed at the notion one will lead to the other’s legalization. But logically, and perhaps now legally, that is becoming a harder argument to make. In fact, fundamentalist Mormons, who still practice polygamy, argue that plural marriage should be allowed because its prohibition amounts to a form of discrimination — a similar argument that supporters of “gay marriage” make.

Marquardt, author of the forthcoming book, “My Daddy’s Name Is Donor,” said a three-parent family like the one in the Pennsylvania case could be disastrous for a child.

“[T]hree-parent situations typically involve a couple and a third person living separately, meaning the child will get shuffled between homes, and this raises problems,” she wrote. “… [H]ow many homes should children travel between to satisfy the parenting needs of many adults?”

Marquardt told of a study she co-authored focusing on so-called “good” divorces — those divorces in which the parents have little conflict and “stay involved in the child’s life.”

“We found that even these children must grow up traveling between two worlds, having to make sense on their own of the different values, beliefs and ways of living they find in each home,” she wrote. “They have to grow up too soon. When a court assigns a child several parents, some of whom never intend to share a home, they consign that child, at best, to a ‘good’ divorce situation.”

If a court allows a child to have three legal parents, Marquardt asserted, then there’s no reason why another court case cannot involve four or more parents.

“Some situations involve a couple who wants the child, the sperm donor, the egg donor and the gestational surrogate who carries the pregnancy,” she wrote. “… Fortunate children have many people who love them as much as their parents do. But in the best interests of children, no court should break open the rule of two when assigning legal parenthood.”

FREE SPEECH CASE IN ALBERTA — An Alberta human rights panel began hearing a case July 16 that could determine what can and cannot be said about homosexuality in Canada in the future.

The case involves Stephen Boissoin, who was a youth pastor in Red Deer, Alberta, in June 2002 when he wrote a letter to the local newspaper arguing that homosexual activists are “just as immoral as pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps that plague our communities,” the Calgary Herald reported.

He further wrote: “From kindergarten class on, our children, your grandchildren are being strategically targeted, psychologically abused and brainwashed by homosexual and pro-homosexual educators. Your children are being warped into believing that same-sex families are acceptable; that kissing men is appropriate.”

A local high school teacher, Darren Lund, read the letter and filed a complaint that led to the hearing. Lund now is an education professor at the University of Calgary. Lund is married and is not homosexual, although he has been a longtime liberal advocate.

“It’s going to be a very significant case, probably the most significant constitutional case involving human rights legislation that has ever been considered in Alberta,” Gerald Chipeur, Boissoin’s lawyer, was quoted as saying in the Herald.

Interestingly, a Canadian homosexual rights group, EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere), has sided with Boissoin’s right to freedom of expression, although it says it disagrees with his beliefs, the newspaper said.

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust