Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, March 14, 2008

Alt for Norge!

The Norwegian government has proposed to make marriage laws gender-neutral, thus allowing gay marriage. The measure seems likely to go forward since governments usually get their legislation passed in a parliamentary system. This would add Norway as the sixth nation in the roll call, after the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and South Africa. The law also would hold that, when two women marry and one becomes pregnant by in vitro fertilization, both partners would be able to claim parental rights from the moment of conception. Times, they are a-changing!


The Law Talking Guy said...

Why is it good that, when one of two women living together gets married by in vitro fertilization, both of them have equal parental rights? A womb counts for nothing? I am all for gender-neutral marriage laws, but I think that divorcing biology entirely from parental rights could be a mistake. There is a lot at stake.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Could be. We'll have to see how it shakes out.

Spotted Handfish said...

So, LTG, it is arguable that you have just diminished men's rights in parenthood. This is exactly the same situation as a hetero couple requiring IV when the man cannot produce "the goods". Do men not have rights then? Do women who have eggs implanted have less say in the child's upbringing?

Let's face it ANY claim of distinction between a heterosexual relationship and a homosexual one is inherently discrimination. Wouldn't you agree?

Raised By Republicans said...

LTG raises an interestig qustion. Do parental rights derive from biology, the legal relationship of mariage, or the decision to raise a child together.

For options 1 and 2, if the relationship ends, then the woman who did not use her womb would lose her parental rights and obligations could be argued to end with the relationship. But for option 3, the parental rights and obligations would continue.

Raised By Republicans said...

By the way...WAY TO GO NORWAY!

Norway, Denmark and Sweden often follow each other's lead on things like this so I wouldn't be surprised to see similar laws enacted by the next center-left governments in those countries (both are currently governed by center-right coalitions).

Also, just wait for a case about gay marriage to come before the European Court of Justice. If they rule that everyone has to recognize other Member States' mariage laws, then the entire EU will effectively have recognized gay mariage (of course Norway is not in the EU but the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain are).

The Law Talking Guy said...

Many jurisdictions separate parental rights from parental obligations. To wit, a biological father in the two-women scenario may not have a right to claim fatherhood (visitation rights, custody, guardianship decisions) but the child may be able (through a guardian ad litem) to claim an obligation of financial support from the biological father. Many people are queasy about this outcome. Fatherhood rights advocates (they exist in this country) fight against outcomes that require a biological father to give financial support while denying him the opportunity to be a dad.

There is no doubt that for each child, there is a biological male and female parent. Today, this pair no longer necessarily includes the gestating parent or any of the persons who intend to raise the child as parents. Who has the right to claim involvement with the child as a parent? Who has the obligation to support the child financially? I suggest that these are not easy questions. If two women are living together, she gets pregnant by some method, then they split up before the birth, does the child have the right to demand 18 years of child support from the non-gestating mother? What about the father? Is it okay to have anonymous sperm donation? Is it right to allow the biological father to disown his offspring in that manner? If so, why not after a one-night-stand?

I just want to raise up the possibility that family law involves a lot of very hard choices, and it's not at all clear that it is just to give equal and exclusive parental rights and obligations to the two persons who claim ex ante that they intend to be parents.

This isn't limited to gay couples, of course. We have all kinds of issues with straight couples too. A child born in wedlock is presumed the child of mother and the person married to the mother. It used to be a conclusive presumption (i.e., biological tests could not give the "real" father any rights). That is changed everywhere. Still, what are the obligations of the mother's husband if he was cuckolded? What if he chooses to undertake to be a father? What if he does not?

There's a reason I never, ever, wanted to practice family law. Every day you face the task of Solomon with none of his wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Is it just conception by IVF, or all manner of artificial insemination?

IVF is usually reserved for people with specific medical problems, while a procedure like intrauterine insemination is a more basic conception method.

-Seventh Sister