A Florida judge ruled earlier this month that a little girl conceived through artificial insemination can have three parents listed on her birth certificates—two mothers and one father, according to a report from the Christian News Network.
While LGBT activists laud these types of decisions as a progressive step towards family “equality,” critics warn they represent an alarming overreach of court authority and the beginning of a very slippery slope for the future of the family.
This ruling is the result of a three-year custody battle between Massilmiliano Gerina, the gay hairstylist who agreed to donate sperm for Maria Italiano and Cher Filippazzo, a lesbian couple who wanted a child. The three agreed verbally that Massilmiliano would relinquish parental rights to Italiano and Filippazzo. But shortly before the child was born, he changed his mind and contended in court for the right to have a role in her life.
“When push came to shove, they figured he would understand the situation,” explained Gerina’s attorney Kenneth Kaplan. “The mistake they made, however, was there should have been a written document spelling out what his rights and responsibilities [were] going to be.” The judge’s ruling means that Emma, 23 mos., legally has three parents: Gerina is her biological father, Italiano is her biological mother, and Filippazzo is her adoptive mother.
John Stemberger, president of Florida Family Council criticized the judge’s decision as an inappropriate application of court authority.
“It flies in the face of centuries of common law,” he said. In the past, he explained, third-party donors were never entitled to parental rights.
He predicted these types of court cases will lead to an endless onslaught of political, legal, and social questions about marriage and family. But the greatest casualty, he said, would be the emotional and psychological health of the children: “The confusion they suffer is enormous.”
Emma isn’t the only child at the center of a parenting battle. Last year, two other Florida lesbians fought a custody battle over who was the real mother to their daughter. One woman had donated an egg for artificial insemination. The other woman carried the fertilized egg and eventually gave birth to the child. Nine years later, they broke up and the birth mother fled Florida with her daughter, igniting a custody battle still pending a court decision.
In his opinion about a similar case involving two women contending for custody, Judge C. Alan Lawson pointed out the slippery slope these types of rulings represent: “The court shouldn't recognize two mothers unless we are also willing to invalidate laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, bigamy, polygamy or adult incestuous relationships on the same basis," Lawson said, according to Fox News.
Stenberger echoed that sentiment but also pointed to a troubling inconsistency. Usually, in heterosexual situations involving family matters, the ruling criteria is always whatever is best for the children. Not here.
“Whenever you have homosexuals or anyone with an aberrant sexual preference, the desire of the adult is always placed over what’s best for the child,” he said. “This is a pandora’s box of problems.”