California State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) has introduced a bill that would allow multiple parents to be recognized by the law. In a nation where there are almost as many step families as first families, this could prove to be a convenience for many. In the immediate absence of birth parents, step parents could make decisions for children.
According to the Sacramento Bee, Leno said, ”The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today.”
The bill, SB 1476, does not redefine parenthood, nor does it discriminate against heterosexual or LGBT parents. It simply removes the limits on numbers of parents. Of course, Republicans see it as a threat to the traditional family.
Benjamin Lopez, of Traditional Values Coalition, slammed the bill as an attempt to “revamp, redefine and muddy the waters” of family structure: “It comes as no surprise that he would try to say that a child has more than two parents, that’s absurd.”
Having more than two parents is far from absurd. 50% of marriages end in divorce. Many of those remarry and form new families. Millions of children have two complete sets of parents, people who should be given full authority over that child’s care.
The bill could recognize not just mixed families, but surrogates and people who have raised children that are not their own. Custody would need to be agreed upon by all parties. Children would have greater access to benefits such as financial support and health insurance. Presumably, the bill could ease child support burdens on some non-custodial parents.
Opposition to the bill comes from more than just the religious right. Family attorneys note that it could open up a legal can of worms, causing confusion in the courts and the potential to make custody battles even more disruptive and emotionally damaging to a child’s life.