The Australian ran two pieces that took a stab at gay marriage, bizzarely linking it with the problem of fatherlessness in general and custody rights of divorced fathers.
Angela Shannahan (‘Children Suffer Under Political Correctness’) and Jeremy Sammut (‘Women’s Rights Push Dad’s Aside’) both refer to a recent NSW court ruling, that I have written about previously, in which a father was removed from his daughter’s birth certificate to enable her two mothers to be listed. They cite this case as evidence that society is increasingly ignoring the importance of fathers in children’s lives. They also suggest that gay marriage will inevitably lead to tragic situations such as this where children are denied access to their father.
Their arguments, however, miss several important points about this case. Firstly, the child had a close parental bond with both of her mothers as well as her father. It would have been a tragedy for her to lose her bond with the mother she had always known and loved, just as much as it would have been a tragedy for her to lose her bond with her father. (Which, it is worth noting, is not a fait acompli in this case. The father still has a parenting order granting him legal parenting rights). It was in the best interests of this child to have all her parental figures acknowledged.
Secondly, the non-biological mother in this case felt she needed to be on the birth certificate so she could demonstrate her legal right to make parenting decisions for her child. It is certainly in the best interests of any child that the parent who is caring for them has the right to make decisions about medical treatment, schooling and so forth.
Unfortunately, in order for the non-biological mother in this case to attain the parental security that came with being listed on a birth certificate, the child’s father had to be removed from it. This was a wholly inadequate outcome because it didn’t appropriately reflect the true makeup of this child’s family. Even the judge in this case, NSW District Court Judge Stephen Walmsley, expressed discomfort with his decision and argued that birth certificates should have provisions for more than two parents. Sadly, the most likely outcome of a case like this is heightened insecurity and conflict between the parents – the worst possible situation for this child.