Leave it to California to be on the cutting edge of family law. The Los Angeles Times reports that on Friday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill allowing families to name more than two legal parents as the guardians of a child.
The bill was written by San Francisco Democratic state senator Mark Leno to reflect what he sees as the changing demographics of the state, although it’s been seen by many conservatives as an attack on the model of a traditional family. The law will be pertinent in situations such as same-sex couples who have a child with opposite-sex biological parents.
According to Senator Leno, this law will address financial responsibility and custody for all parents involved in raising a child. "Courts need the ability to recognize these changes so children are supported by the adults that play a central role in loving and caring for them. It is critical that judges have the ability to recognize the roles of all parents so that no child has to endure separation from one of the adults he or she has always known as a parent," he said.
The new law relates back to a 2011 case in which a lesbian couple got into an argument and one of the women ended up in the hospital and the other in jail because one of them was pregnant with another man’s child. Because the father had no parental rights, their daughter was sent to a foster home.
Ed Howard, spokesman for the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the San Diego University School of Law, says, “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 bill becoming law."
In opposition to the ruling, Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, said Friday he was disappointed by the governor's action, "This is in the long run going to be a mistake. The ones who are going to pay the price are not the activists, but it's going to be children, who will see greater conflict and indecision over matters involving their well-being."