Bill Extending Rights to Third Parent Follows Senate OK with Assembly Nod--and Usual Foes

A bill approved by the California Assembly Monday would allow judges to extend parental rights to a child's third parent.

Senate Bill 1476, which was co-authored by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), would allow--for instance--a gay father raising a child with a lesbian couple to also have parental rights.

Votes in the Senate in July and Monday in the Assembly (51-26) have been along party lines, and, as you would expect, conservative groups have released the hounds.

"This bill is a Trojan horse for the same-sex-marriage agenda," Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, recently told the New York Times. "Advocates for same-sex marriage are very interested in separating parentage and marriage from biological parentage, because that's the one thing same-sex couples can never achieve."

Speaking of hounds, Rush Limbaugh chimed in after the Senate vote, saying on his nationally syndicated radio program July 2, "This is the kind of thing that we used to be mocked for saying could happen someday.  . . .  You tell me what it is. How does a kid have more than two parents?"

He goes on to dig up hateful comments from years ago where he equates allowing same-sex couples to marry to straight guys marrying their dogs, to somehow prove he predicted what is contained in Leno's bill.

The bill's co-author maintains the law is necessary because of a recent appellate court ruling that found only two parents can legally be recognized under any situation, including those where recognizing a third child parent would protect that child from harm.

"We live in a world today where courts are dealing with diverse circumstances that have reshaped California families," Leno explains in a statement from his office. "This legislation gives courts the flexibility to protect the best interests of a child who is being supported financially and emotionally by those parents.

"It is critical that judges have the ability to recognize the roles of all parents," Leno continues, "especially when a family is in distress and a child's security is a concern."

Given the opposition, you just knew the National Center for Lesbian Rights would be behind the bill.

"Families come in many forms, and all children deserve to have their families protected by the law," Family Protection Project Director Cathy Sakimura says in the same Leno statement. "Legal recognition gives children tremendous legal, emotional, financial, and psychological benefits and helps them thrive."

"Everyone who places the interests of children first, and realizes that judges shouldn't be forced to rule in ways that hurt children, should cheer this Assembly vote," adds Ed Howard, senior counsel for the Children's Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law.

The bill has been overshadowed by another that has really bunched the panties of the religious right. Senate Bill 1172 by Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) would ban parents from trying to "cure" their gay children.

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