Thursday, May 24, 2007

Defining Daddy

In our politically-correct fervour to bend over backwards trying to please every special interest group that wants to be called a parent, we now have this interesting situation to ponder - And Daddy Makes 3; Or Maybe Not.

The Star's Brenda Cossman examines the story of a common-law couple where the woman wanted a baby, but her partner did not. So, she took matters into her own hands, so to speak, and through the magic of modern science, used an anonymous donor's sperm to satisfy her maternal instincts.

Neither John nor Jane Doe want John to be considered a legal step-parent. He wants nothing to do with the child at all. But they are still 'lovers', living together, and therefore in the eyes of Alberta Court of Appeal, he is a father by virtue of the fact that "he continues to live with the mother. The fact that he has decided a "settled intention" to remain in a close relationship thrusts him into a parental relationship with the child."

"In other words, a romantic relationship with the mother makes a father."

The case is now being referred to the Supreme Court.


No Pandora's Box here, right?

I'm just wondering what happens when Junior tries to figure out who to give a card to on Father's Day?

41 comments:

Red Tory said...

Do you actually worry about such things? If so, do you honestly think that this presents some sort of serious threat to the “traditional family” as that term is generally understood?

It always amazes me that social conservatives like yourself don’t spend more time fretting over the much more significant and widespread problem of why almost half of all marriages end up in divorce. Isn’t that infinitely more of a threat to the “traditional family” that is held to absolutely fundamental to your system of “family values” than some unconventional arrangement that’s quite anomalous and statistically irrelevant in the scheme of things?

liberal supporter said...

The husband of the mother of a child is legally considered to be the father. Doesn't matter if he was cuckolded, he is legally the father. A DNA donor cannot make any custody claims if the mother is married. I would speculate that this was intended to provide stability to a family. It comes from times when motherhood is obvious, you can see a baby emerge from her, while the father is not as easily proven. It would provide certainty for the legal side of things, lineage, inheritance and support.

This is simply extending the same thinking to common law.

As far as talking points go, this is a prime example of why same sex marriage had to be "marriage" and not some other thing like "civil union". This is a "common law couple" and not a "marriage". In a marriage the matter would already be settled. In something other than marriage, we have the uncertainty and court cases.

Slowly the common law relationship is being made to resemble marriage in its legal aspects, but each law and regulation gets changed piecemeal to expand who it covers. Considering we have had common law marriage for a long time, and things like tax returns have allowed you to claim a common law spouse, it is indeed telling that this sort of thing is only being dealt with now, decades later.

It is an example of what would have happened had the gays been forced to accept something less than marriage. Each different nuance would be debated endlessly, with the result being that certain citizens would continue to live in a state of uncertainty as to what their rights really are, and with no certainty that things that should be taken for granted would not be arbitrarily withheld.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Do you actually worry about such things? If so, do you honestly think that this presents some sort of serious threat to the “traditional family” as that term is generally understood?

Actually, it bothers me a great deal. It is another example of adult rights superseding those of the child. The mother was acting for her own selfish reasons, deliberately bringing a child into the world knowing that her common-law husband wanted nothing to do it the whole thing.

I find it appalling. It perhaps would have been less abhorrent if she had simply attempted to adopt a child needing a home.

Selfish, boneheaded people.

L.S. - I truly hope that the Supreme Court doesn't cave on this, but on the other hand, what is the use of a man in a child's life when he rejects the whole notion of fatherhood?

Red Tory said...

Joanne — Don’t those supporting “traditional family values” maintain that the true essence of marriage and its most compelling reason for existence is procreation? After all, that was the argument earnestly made by social conservatives when railing against the evils of SSM. Was that a legitimate argument or specious nonsense as some felt it to be?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Don’t those supporting “traditional family values” maintain that the true essence of marriage and its most compelling reason for existence is procreation?

There was no legal marriage in this example.

Sandy said...

Right on Joanne. Why bring a child into this world who isn't wanted by one partner? Mind you, that sort of thing has been going on a long time, but it doesn't make it right. RT and LS miss the point. I would find it wrong even if it involved a same sex partner who became pregnant or adopted a child (in case of a male). You have to make a choice, a child or the relationship. Of course, I have a feeling that once the child is born, the disenchanted partner may change his mind. Hopefully, that will be the case. My parents were divorced when I was a toddler. It is not fun never knowing what it is like to have a father.

Red Tory said...

The fact that it wasn't "legal" in your opinion is entirely beside the point. But leave that aside for the moment.

Do you think the argument that was made in connection with SSM relative to "legal" marriages was a valid one?

Red Tory said...

Sandy — I don't miss the point at all. Joanne usually makes finding the way to the nearest slippery slope quite an easy matter. Sometimes it even comes with signage (labels).

Kunoichi said...

this is a prime example of why same sex marriage had to be "marriage" and not some other thing like "civil union".

I would have to question this statement. I have a "civil union." My husband and I were married by a justice of the peace. Legally, it is a marriage recognized by secular law. It is *not* recognized by religion (as the priest so helpfully told my mother when she asked). The law sees me as married. According to the RC church, we're living in sin.

As for common law, after an increasingly short time (only 6 months, last I've heard. I remember when it was 5 yrs), secular law recognizes these couples as "married." It's an issue that applies to things like ownership and division of property, etc.

Red Tory said...

Kunoichi — You're absolutely correct, but there are some (Joanne apparently being one of them) who do not recognize common law marriages, despite the name, as being "legal" as she puts it. For all intents and purposes they are are of course.

I think however you may be mistaken in equating "civil unions" with "civil marriage" as these are two different legal arrangements, technically speaking.

liberal supporter said...

As for common law, after an increasingly short time (only 6 months, last I've heard. I remember when it was 5 yrs), secular law recognizes these couples as "married." It's an issue that applies to things like ownership and division of property, etc.

You have a civil marriage, you are married. SSM was to permit gays to have civil marriage. The laws that refer to marriages and spouses do not care if you were married in a church or city hall. You are married.

The common law marriage is not a marriage under the law. Many other laws are in place to give it the same weight as legal marriage. But as we see in this case, it is done on a piecemeal basis. Division of property came early. Assumption of husband's paternity is only being addressed now.

That was my point, that expanding the definition of legal marriage to include gays prevents an ongoing battle for each and every one of the rights and privileges associated with marriage. The alternative would be court cases galore.

Canadi-anna said...

liberal supporter said: A DNA donor cannot make any custody claims if the mother is married.

That's just not true. Legal parents now have more rights than natural parents, but a natural father could indeed make claims on custody regardless of the mother's marital status. It isn't about the mother. It's about the child.

RT -- Anomalous and statistically irrelevant events have their way of becoming mainstream, particularly when the courts are asked to render their wisdom.

But the response to this case isn't just about the ever-evolving laws concerning parental rights responsibilities. This is about the need for children to have two parents (when that is possible). This child has no father. It has a sperm donor and a man who lives with its mother. How irresponsible is that woman that she would choose to do that to a child?

Don’t those supporting “traditional family values” maintain that the true essence of marriage and its most compelling reason for existence is procreation?

What's your point and how does it relate to the case at hand?

You're right about divorce being a major problem though. No fault divorce was another bit of wisdom brought to us courtesy of the Liberals. Why throw it in the faces of social conservatives in order to make a point?

Red Tory said...

Anna — Can you give me one example of an anomalous, statistically irrelevant event becoming “mainstream” as you assert is the case. Just one… two would be nicer, but one will do.

I do have a point, but I want Joanne to answer the question first of all. The point will depend on how the question is answered.

“No fault” divorce was merely an acceptance of reality. The fact of the matter is that before its advent it was necessary to attach one of the available fault grounds to justify the divorce such as “mental cruelty” or “physical abuse” even though this was more of a token than anything else simply applied to facilitate the procedure in the case of an intolerable relationship that may not have actually had a legal fault basis for its dissolution. After a spike in the rates for a few years after the law was changed, rates stabilized and are actually slightly in decline as has been the trend for the last several years. Overall, rates are still lower in Canada than most other industrialized countries and are dramatically lower than in the U.S.

Why throw it in the faces of social conservatives? Because I think sometimes a lot of their hysteria about things such as SSM and other issues are completely misplaced if their concern is truly about “family values” and preserving the “traditional” social unit in which these are fostered. If that were the case, then shouldn’t an issue that affects (in Canada) approx. 40% of marriages be of vastly greater concern that some obscure, irrelevant case? Why get into high dudgeon about that?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Red, are you asking me why I dont' rant about high divorce rates? If so, my view on that is that sometimes it is better for the children if a couple gets divorced, than for them to stay in a dysfunctional or abusive situation.

I'm having trouble understanding your point. Sorry.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Why bring a child into this world who isn't wanted by one partner? Mind you, that sort of thing has been going on a long time, but it doesn't make it right.

That is exactly my point, Sandy. Thanks.

This child is going to be rejected by the male figure in his life. It is worse than a single mother, IMHO. Worse than a divorce too. I don't understand what would cause a woman to make a decision like that and then still keep the guy around the kid. Doesn't make any kind of sense to me.

liberal supporter said...

No fault divorce was another bit of wisdom brought to us courtesy of the Liberals. Why throw it in the faces of social conservatives in order to make a point?

Why throw no-fault divorce into the faces of social liberals in order to make a point?


I could not find a source for "mother's husband is considered the father", except that it is true under Quebec Civil Code. Of course anyone could make a claim of custody, whether they would succeed is another matter. I was illustrating one of the differences between legal marriage and common law, which the Alberta court appears to have closed.


The problem I have with social conservatives is that they believe in legislating other peoplss' behaviour on moral grounds. Usually their own morals of course. Everyone knows divorce is bad for children. What is not agreed is that forcing people to stay in marriages would be good for the children. It would only be good for the divorce statistics, not the actual people involved.

You disagree (rightly in my view) with legislating outcomes, such as percentages of minorities in every area of life. Instead such percentages should be measured, so we know where to target resources, such as education, language training etc. Though you do not agree with legislating outcomes in one area, and even refer to it as "social engineering", you think we should not have no-fault divorce. i.e. you want to legislate outcomes such as the divorce rate. Social engineering.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

What is not agreed is that forcing people to stay in marriages would be good for the children. It would only be good for the divorce statistics, not the actual people involved.

On that, we can agree, L.S.

Red Tory said...

Joanne — My point essentially is as stated above, that I feel the hysteria of social conservatives is largely misplaced and seems to be part of an ongoing campaign to be outraged and dyspeptic at every little thing they see as being a threat or potential assault on the traditional family unit and the values it embodies, but this is just absurd when the biggest “threat” (being divorce) is staring them right in the face and there’s nothing they can do about it. So then I wonder why you get all exercised about silly little things like this?

But of course this post is all part of the big slippery slope that you folks love to jumble down all the time, isn’t it? Civilization is on the brink of ruin! Decay and moral degeneracy is all around us! The threats lurk around every corner and hide under every bed! Where will this assault on our values all end? There’s much moaning, wailing and gnashing of teeth to be had as everyone wrings their hands in despair at the perfidy and decadence of liberals and secular humanists and libertine pagans destroying our culture, ruing our families, sowing the seeds of impending chaos and ruin all about. Oh woe is us!

This post is just yet another example of the tiresome “thin edge of the wedge” refrain. You provide all the cues right up front and most especially in the label where you state “If everything is family then nothing is family.” Wow. That’s quite a remarkable statement to make and one that deserves a whole lot more attention than I think perhaps your readers (or commenters, at least) are giving it.

When asked why you feel this particular case is an issue worthy of getting exercised about, you state that it’s twofold: 1) selfishness of the individuals concerned which outrages you; and 2) the right of children being superseded by those of adults which concerns you. These are both interesting concepts in their own right that merit investigation in further detail and my curious line of questioning was intended to better understand your thinking in this regard to see how this relates to broader issues at play.

Sadly, I don’t find your responses to be very thoughtful, honest or forthcoming. It seems that you’re happier to stick with the script of simply decrying what you see as an ominous and terrifying new front developing in the ongoing culture war. It’s unfortunate that issues like this, if they even need to be discussed in the first place (which is questionable), aren’t at least examined and considered with more serious reflection.

When you enthusiastically endorse Sandy’s quite legitimate query about the seemingly puzzling motives of the people involved here as being “exactly your point” I would contend that it’s NOT that at all and you’re being wholly misleading in saying that it is. Yes, it’s a good question to be sure, but one that begs many others. Your “point” seems more one of, as the title of the post says, defining exactly what constitutes fatherhood and, moreover, what is the definition of a “family” when the bounds are tested in this way as is indicated by your label to this post. You’re not quite forthright in actually stating what your position is on these matters, but seem happier instead to simply make certain allusions to what it might be, leaving one to presume what the thinking in support of it might be.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Sadly, I don’t find your responses to be very thoughtful, honest or forthcoming.

That's your problem; not mine.

jeff davidson said...

and this kind of thing happens how often? get real.

what's far more dangerous to the well-being of many children are the abusive idiots who want to be parents.

whether you like to admit it or not, most children are abused at the hands of their heterosexual parents inside the safety of the traditional family...

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Jeff, have you got statistics to back that up?

Red Tory said...

Joanne — That's your problem; not mine.

Yes, I suppose it is. There are some who engage the ideas of others to seek insight through dialectic, and there are those who simply derive comfort from their own conceited solipsism. The latter provide an endless source of aggravating consternation to the former.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Red, look. My POV, simply put, is that today's society is too much concerned with the rights of the adult; at the expense of the child.

If you don't share my opinion, that's fine. I can handle it.

Kunoichi said...

I think however you may be mistaken in equating "civil unions" with "civil marriage" as these are two different legal arrangements, technically speaking.

That may be. I know in parts of Europe, there is a difference between a civil union and a civil marriage, but I don't know that Canada separates the two.

The common law marriage is not a marriage under the law. Many other laws are in place to give it the same weight as legal marriage.

It's that legal recognition that I am talking about. Whether or not it's referred to as "marriage" seems to depend as much on the couple as anything else. It's not recognized specifically as marriage (which would be why forms have "common law" as well as "married","single" or "divorced" A common law relationship has a legal status similar to marriage.

You're right about the piecemeal thing. There are provincial variations for common law that I don't think exist for marriage.

Red Tory said...

Then why didn't you just state that in the first place instead of casting about elsewhere with all sorts of vague allusions? I believe you're dissembling a bit here Joanne. You yourself suggest that it's a "Pandora's Box" and the title of your post and the label would seem to indicate that what you are now saying was your point is perhaps not exactly what you had in mind when you wrote the post.

Don't get me wrong. The issue of the respective rights of parents and children is an entirely valid one, but that's not the way you set forward your argument here. At least that's sure not the way I read it. As for sharing your opinion on the matter, I'd have to know more about what it is before agreeing or disagreeing with it in any sort of informed way. You're expecting me to make a whole lot of assumptions as a reader to know what your position is on children's rights. Other than knowing that you feel they are important and are in some cases are trumped by those of selfish parents, I really know nothing. If that's the entire sum of it, then yes, I would agree with that.

When you venture into subjects like this they're bound to be nettlesome, so don't be surprised if you pick up some thorns along the way.

Canadi-anna said...

RT -- gay marriage, gay couples adopting, abortion on demand, shacking up -- are all cases of anomalies becoming mainstream.

As for divorce -- Most social conservatives are as passionate about the ease of divorce as they are about other social issues like SSM -- the difference being that the divorce laws are a quarter of a century old and SSM was a recent news event.

liberal supporter -- I think the values associated with no fault divorce are already entrenched. We live in a disposable society. There is no doubt that people toss away perfectly workable marriages because they are simply not worth the effort to save, but there are as many who live with horrible marriages and a no fault divorce is the simplest method of dissolving those.
The problem with no fault though, is that one is not held accountable for one's actions during the marriage, which in itself might be a deterrent to some of the behaviours that end up in divorce.

Jeff Davidson said . . .what's far more dangerous to the well-being of many children are the abusive idiots who want to be parents

This is the weirdest statement I've read so far. No doubt abusive idiots are bound to be abusive -- exactly who are you talking about? People who want to be parents, or abusive idiots who chose to be parents in order to be abusive?

most children are abused at the hands of their heterosexual parents inside the safety of the traditional family

That's like saying that most accidents occur within a mile of the home. It's statistically true, but deceiving because most people spend most of their time in or near their homes.

Jim McCrea said...

Don't try to figure it out, don't try to distangle the logical threads involved in such an unusual situation (the man is considered responsible as the father of the baby because he is the mother's lover) - don't try to figure out any Canadian court decisions or laws passed - as a simple intuition, you can simply discern them as wrong, and leave it at that - when the social consequences of such things are truly realized (aka Tribulation), then some motivation for constructive change will take place - then, and only then, will our society return to sanity and a basis in actual justice.



.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Canadianna - Thanks. Very eloquently stated.

Jeff's statement was a little strange alright. Gee, I bet that murderers wanting to be parents would be very dangerous to their offspring as well.

Red Tory said...

Anna — "Shacking up"... Do people still use such quaint expressions?

You must have a funny definition of the word "mainstream" given some of your examples. What do you imagine the number of gay couples that have adopted to be?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Red, do you never sleep? It must be in the middle of the night out there.

Canadi-anna said...

RT -- you asked for examples, I gave them.
You can't dispute them so instead you ask for numbers -- how should I know? But are you shocked when you hear of a gay couple adopting? If the majority of people aren't, then it is a statistical anomaly gone mainstream.

Red Tory said...

Anna — Excuse me, but YOU are the one claiming these things to be “mainstream” therefore I believe the onus is on YOU to establish that fact. Instead, you just say it is so because you’ve heard of stories of gay couples adopting for example, so ergo, it’s mainstream. What absolute bunk. I’m aware of some communities in the interior of B.C. here where polygamy is tacitly accepted. It’s been reported on news programs and in the papers, so according to your loopy way of thinking that means it’s “mainstream” behaviour. Absolutely, totally and completely ridiculous.

Canadi-anna said...

RT -- When something ceases to be 'shocking', it's mainstream. Mainstream doesn't just mean 'everyone's doing it RT', it also means accepted/acceptable.

It used to be that if a girl got pregnant outside of marriage, people whispered. It was shocking. It was gossip. Nowadays, it isn't. The same goes for gay adoption. It mightn't happen daily, but it certainly isn't scandalous. By the majority of people, it's met with indifference.

Your polygamy analogy doesn't wash because it is both illegal and in your words: 'tacitly accepted' -- in other words, it's tolerated but shunned. It is not acceptable, people simply put up with it or ignore it.

Maybe in your neck of the woods people are less tolerant of gays and their choices, where I'm from gay adoption doesn't raise an eyebrow, though it used to.

If the numbers of gays adopting don't equal the number of straights, it's because there are lower numbers of gays to begin with -- that doesn't mean that the idea isn't part of the common culture -- hence -- it is mainstream.

Red Tory said...

You should alert the folks at Websters and the Oxford English Dictionary because you’ve just added a new definition of the word “mainstream” that does not presently exist in those fine reference publications.

Canadi-anna said...

RT -- maybe you should grab a dictionary yourself:

main·stream (mān'strēm') Pronunciation Key
n. The prevailing current of thought, influence, or activity: "You need not accept the nominee's ideology, only be able to locate it in the American mainstream" (Charles Krauthammer).

adj. Representing the prevalent attitudes, values, and practices of a society or group: mainstream morality.

tr.v. main·streamed, main·stream·ing, main·streams

1. To integrate (a student with special needs) into regular school classes.
2. To incorporate into a prevailing group.


Are you still trying to say that gays adopting doesn't fit into today's modern morality? Or that it is not being incorporated into the common understanding? If you are, then you're really outside of the mainstream.

How many gays have to adopt before it's mainstream. Something doesn't become mainstream simply because of its numbers, but because of its place in society. How do you not get that?

I would have thought that in your world, such inflexibility -- even with regard to a simple definition -- was more reflective of right-wing thought.

It's funny to find such a rigid and unyielding left-winger who isn't pretending to be the open-minded one. Good job RT.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Canadianna - Good job. You go girl!

Red Tory said...

The definitions of the word refer to the “principal or dominant course, tendency, or trend” or that which is “belonging to or characteristic of a principal, dominant or widely accepted group.” To take an example, the majority of people do not support same-sex marriage and therefore I would contend that this type of arrangement is not “mainstream” by definition. Yes it is legal and it may not even raise an eyebrow amongst a good number of people, but it is not something that is characteristic of the dominant cultural group. There are many things, let’s call them “lifestyle choices” for lack of a better term, that may be acknowledged and even accepted to one degree or another by the mainstream, but they can never properly be described as “mainstream” themselves. I would even go so far as to say that homosexuality is not regarded as mainstream. It’s certainly common enough as to be entirely unsurprising, and even accepted by a good number of people as something that’s quite natural (you not being one of them apparently), but it will never be “mainstream” by virtue of the fact that it will always be limited to a comparatively small percentage of the population. I think you are abusing the word in its proper sense and stretching the definition to suit your purposes.

Call it rigid and inflexible if you like, but the manipulation of words and “framing” of issues by right-wingers who abuse the language is one of the most pernicious ways in which their deceitful falsehoods are manufactured and disseminated.

Canadi-anna said...

RT -- I can't believe it -- a left-winger acknowledging that most people don't support ssm. Who'd have thunk it?

But maybe you'd better have a talk with the Supreme Court. Apparently they thought ssm was more than just a lifestyle choice and worthy of more respect than being just an 'arrangement'. And Paul Martin and all the others who had epiphanies back in 2005 when there was a need to get the NDP onside to extend parliament -- because apparently they believed it was absolutely 'normal' and normal is like, well, mainstream -- so your esteemed opinion aside -- our legistators have already decided it's mainstream -- TWICE.

And homosexuality not mainstream? What about Will & Grace? Rosie O'Donnell? Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? Gay John on NYPD Blue? What about Mambo Italiano? Gays and the gay lifestyle are injected into our livingrooms and most people don't turn the channel let alone bat an eye.

Numbers don't matter RT. Kids with disabilities go to regular classes. They remain the minority but their acceptance is part of a trend to normalize their experience and develop a sense of understanding amongst the regular kids. The disabled will never be in numbers like the regular students, but their existance within the 'normal' world is commonplace.

You talk about right-wingers manipulating the language, while left-wingers talk about gay marriage as just another normal. So, when I acquiesce, and acknowledge it as such -- you have the audacity to complain? Talk about manipulation to suit your agenda.

The majority needn't be homosexual for it to be 'mainstream', the prevailing trend in attitude simply needs to be accepting. The prevailing cultural attitude in North America is accepting and accomodating of homosexuals.

And maybe when you were looking up big words to use in support of your specious argument, you misread 'pernicious'. There's nothing pernicious about anything I've said to you -- nothing harmful, nothing to cause injury or pain.

This is the first time I've ever been called names for framing an argument in a manner that claims the general acceptance of gay cultural choices. One would have thought you'd be happy to see that even the right side of the spectrum is becoming somewhat more tolerant rather than railing on about the potential fall-out generations from now.

You'd better start choosing your battles more wisely -- you're beginning to sound positively conservative in your attitudes.

Red Tory said...

Sorry I don't fit in your neat little box of what you imagine a "liberal" to be.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

And homosexuality not mainstream? What about Will & Grace? Rosie O'Donnell? Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? Gay John on NYPD Blue? What about Mambo Italiano?

I so agree with you, Canadianna. Just look at the tabloids when waiting in line at the grocery store. It seems that everyone in Hollywood is stumbling over themselves to 'admit' they're gay.

It is no longer a social stigma in Hollywood. Quite the contrary. And these influences permeate our culture.

Nice shot there at the end of your comment, BTW. ;)

Canadi-anna said...

Don't apologize RT. It's probably a good thing.