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Anti-Gay bill would punish children


Daily Camera

Date: 03/30/2002 Section: Editorials Page: A7

This article is published with the permission of the author, Attorney Jeanine M. Pow.  Jeanine M. Pow is located in Boulder, CO and can be found online at http://gaymarriagelawyers.com/Colorado.htm

Anti-gay bill would punish children

By Jeanine M. Pow, Esq.

The gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered (GLBT) community has been the target of numerous pieces of homophobic legislation over the past 10 years. I am keenly aware of how some politicians increase their campaign coffers through hate-filled rhetoric about my community. House Bill 1356 is the most recent attack to be leveled against the GLBT community.  This article is intended to dispel some of the blatant distortions and  misinformation that proponents of this bill have been peddling to Colorado citizens.

HB 1356 would prohibit the Department of Vital Statistics from issuing a birth certificate "with more than one female or more than one male parent." The bill also proscribes  maternity suits brought under the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) in which "the birth mother is known and a female is seeking maternity with the mother."

The sponsors of the bill claim that the proposed legislation is intended "to preserve the accuracy of public records and the lineage of children." Rep. Pam Rhodes, R-Thornton, the House member who introduced the legislation, is quoted as saying "the creation of a child takes one man and one woman. The birth certificate should reflect this."

Fact: If a woman becomes pregnant by artificial insemination (AI) using sperm obtained from anonymous donor, that donor has no parental rights or responsibilities to the procreated child and his name does not appear on the birth certificate. Fact: All of the birth certificates issued to date by the Department of Vital Statistics to children of same gendered couples identify the parents in two alternate ways: "Mother" and "Co-Parent" or "Parent" and "Co-Parent." Fact: HB 1356 seeks to prevent same gendered couples from petitioning courts to provide the intended children of the couple with two legally recognized parents.

Who are the couples that are filing petitions under the UPA? These are same-gendered couples in committed relationships who decided to have a family together. The couples, if judged by commonly held social values, are ideal parents. They did not conceive their children by accident. Instead, each of these couples thoroughly discussed and planned for the creation of their family. These are couples, usually in their mid-30s, the vast majority of whom co-own their home and have joint bank accounts. All but one of over 25 couples I have represented have college degrees. The vast majority of those couples have master`s degrees, Juris Doctorates or medical degrees.  Fact: There are "non-traditional" families living in Colorado, some of whom are GLBT couples. Our relationships are not legally recognized.

What is the purpose of having both parents` names on the child`s birth certificate? Fact: The reasons are practical, not political. The birth certificate is one of the most commonly used legal documents in our society. Only the parents listed on the birth certificate of a child can obtain health insurance, a driver`s license or passport for that child. The child has a right to be financially supported only by those persons determined to be her legal parents. If that parent dies, the child has a right to collect the Social Security benefits of the deceased parent.

What is the UPA? Prior to the enactment of paternity laws, children born out of wedlock were identified as "bastards," scorned as illegitimate and treated as second-class citizens. Historically, having been born outside of marriage, these children had no right to child support from their father. Unless the father had a will containing a specific bequest, the child had no claim to any part of his father`s estate. Paternity laws have most commonly been used to go after dead-beat dads. A core philosophy of the UPA is that, regardless of societal moral values, children who happen to be born out of wedlock should not be penalized for the circumstances of their birth. Fact: The UPA is the only statutory means by which same-gendered couples can legally protect the parent-child relationships of their children. Fact: In issuing decrees to same-gendered couples, these judges have done exactly what the UPA was intended to do: hold those persons legally responsible for the children that they bring into the world.

All Colorado citizens should be concerned about legislators who seek to define who has a legally recognized family. All Colorado citizens should be concerned about legislators who would rather deny a child two legally recognized parents than ensure that the child is supported emotionally and financially by both of her parents. This legislation seeks to punish and penalize children due to the circumstances of their birth. Fact: This is precisely the type of ignorance and prejudice that the UPA was enacted to remedy. Fact: The GLBT community will not sit idly by while attempts are made to disenfranchise our children! 

Jeanine M. Pow is an attorney in Boulder, CO.

This article is published with the permission of the author, Attorney Jeanine M. Pow.  Jeanine M. Pow is located in Boulder, CO and can be found online at http://gaymarriagelawyers.com/Colorado.htm

Column: GUEST OPINION