This is a very large and complex topic and I won’t presume to give an exhaustive reply. I’m going to limit myself mostly to the U.S., and I’m going to limit the topic as well by talking only about planned lesbian and gay families, where a male or female couple have a child together, through any of the methods described here. And even with those limits I’m only going to scratch the surface.
In general, when lesbian and gay couples have children, only one of the two parents is legally recognized as a parent. There are a few exceptions to that rule, which I’ll cover in a later post, but in this one I want to explain why it is that we aren’t both recognized as parents and what effect that has on our families. In the United States, rights and responsibilities associated with parenthood are generally tied to: biology (in particular, the act of giving birth) and marriage. ( Read more...Collapse )
Now, obviously we shouldn’t have to do all that. It’s unfair and unjust that lesbian and gay couples need to be so careful about where we live and where we work and need to put together a myriad of legal documents just to get some of the benefits that straight people get with a trip to city hall or church (and they get all those gifts and money, too!) But beyond that, the real problem is that none of that is enough. None of that gives us the rights and responsibilities of parenthood in an equal way, the way that heterosexual couples get automatically. We think and we plan and we work to rectify unequal laws but things can still go terribly wrong. When is it a problem to not both legal parents, even with a supportive community and all that legal documentation? When things go very wrong: death and divorce.
Next up: What can and has gone terribly wrong for legally unrecognized parents?