26 Jun Court Recognition of ‘Psychological’ Parents: A Disservice to Children
Court Recognition of ‘Psychological’ Parents:
A Disservice to Children
Dear Friend of the Family,
Posted June 26, 2007
You may have read the writings of Louis DeSerres in our online ” Responsible Voices” section. A Montréal native and co-founder of Preserve Marriage — Protect Children’s Rights, Louis has written extensively on how the rights of children to a mother and a father are tossed about in legal attempts to change the nature of marriage and family.
In his “Summary of the French Parliamentary Commission’s Report on the Family and the Rights of Children,” Louis, quoting the report, says: “Children represent the future of society. Thus, the legislature must defend their rights, irregardless of developments in other countries that fail to do so. The best interests of the child must pre-empt the free exercise of some adult freedoms and choice of lifestyles.”
This week, Louis claims that that the failure to acknowledge and protect children’s rights has led to recent trend of courts to recognize “psychological parents,” a trend arising mostly from conflicts among same-sex parents. This new trend actually weakens parental rights for all parents, while doing a disservice to children. By acknowledging and protecting children’s rights, parental rights would be strengthened, he says. I think you will agree with Louis’ points in his article, “Is Same-sex “Marriage” (and Parenting) Jeopardizing Parental Rights?”
Is Same-sex “Marriage (and Parenting) Jeopardizing Parental Rights?
By Louis DeSerres
Imagine a sports competition opposing professional athletes against … children, who don’t even know there is a game being played.
In the same-sex marriage “game,” adults are busily seeking to expand “their constitutional rights” while children are not even aware that the rights they have are being undermined. We all aspire to live in a fair world, but is this fair for children?
Nature has been incredibly efficient at making sure that every child has both a mother and a father. International human rights documents, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), confirm the child’s fundamental right to know and be raised by his or her father and mother whenever possible. Even the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights lays out important human rights for children that are being undermined by governments and courts.
When judges and legislators legalize same-sex marriage, they are unwittingly endorsing the purposeful creation of fatherless or motherless children, and advocating the clear violation of the child’s rights. (In circumstances recognized as exceptional, adoption is meant to give a new family to a child and is based on the best interests of the child.)
Marriage extends the bond between the child and the father and mother through the commitment of both parents to each other, thus increasing permanence in the child’s relationship with his parents. The child thus benefits from having the same biological, legal and care giving parents.
Same-sex marriage is different. It pits the desires of adults against the biological origins of the child, who is either deprived of a father (through anonymous sperm donation) or a mother (through egg donation and/or surrogacy). Furthermore, the same-sex marriage family structure legally and physically separates the child’s biological parents — usually placing one inside the marriage while keeping the other one outside the child’s family.
This tension between biological and non-biological parents is leading advocates of same-sex marriage to seek, through court actions, to increase the number of legally-recognized parents. Some children will have three or more parents thrust upon them by these courts. As more adults are involved, the opportunities for conflict increase, the abandonment of parental responsibilities is facilitated, and, when the adults disagree, the courts become increasingly solicited to try to disentangle the complicated relationships that are affecting these children.
“Whenever we change marriage, we are also changing parenthood.” So writes David Blankenhorn in his recent book “The Future of Marriage.”
The bonding rights of children to their parents are largely reciprocal rights. For example, the internationally-recognized right of parents to raise their children is largely reciprocal to the right of a child to know and be raised by his parents. If we allow children’s rights to be weakened or denied by same-sex marriage, the reciprocal parental rights will also be weakened. On the other hand, strengthening the bonding rights of children to their biological parents should strengthen parental rights towards their children.
When Canada’s Parliament legalized same-sex marriage, it not only violated children’s rights, it clearly understood the implied violation of the natural order. To “fix this problem,” Parliament redefined parenthood, replacing the concept of biological or natural parent with that of “legal” parent. With one stroke of the pen, it reduced the status of every parent in Canada to that of a “legal” parent, weakening parental rights for all.
While Canada has taken explicit legislative action, the absence of such legal redefinition of parenthood in other jurisdictions does not make the problems go away. Dealing mostly with same-sex families at the moment, the courts are increasingly being asked to rule on “who is a parent,” with clear implications for any parent regardless of family structure.
In a recent United Kingdom court case, two young girls were removed from their biological mother, after she violated a visitation order and moved to another part of the country, and given to her former lesbian partner. The judge said: “We have moved into a world where norms that seemed safe 20 or more years ago no longer run. … But in the eyes of the child, the natural parent may be a non-biological parent who, by virtue of long settled care, has become the child’s psychological parent.”
The problem with this new concept of “psychological parent” is twofold: if trivializes the biological bond and it fails to ensure the permanence in the ongoing relationship between parent and child that are provided by either marriage or adoption.
With similar rulings now appearing in U.S. courts giving “psychological” parents precedence over biological parents, it is easy to see that parental rights are being seriously eroded. Same-sex marriage (and parenting), de-linked from the biological origins of the child, is causing an erosion of the reciprocal rights of parents and children in relation to each other.
In summary, it is vital to protect the child’s natural birthright to know and be raised by his or her father and mother. Additionally, protecting the child’s bonding rights to his or her parents actually strengthens parental rights, thus creating a win-win situation for all: parents, children and society.