There will be a baby born this week whose birth certificate will list 2 women as the parents. That’s one of the effects of the ruling in NJ regarding gay marriage last month. While I am of “mixed emotions” on the matter of gay marriage (see my previous posts on it) I’ve got no internal conflict on this one: it’s a bad idea.
The fact of the matter is that this child has 1 female parent and 1 male parent. Upcoming genetic engineering efforts notwithstanding, that’s the way it works with our species. While I’m sure that listing the 2 women as parents (will the certificate actually say “Mother and Mother” or will one of them have to settle for the “father” slot?) will make matters easier for the couple in getting their newborn on their insurance and handling the issues of inheritance down the road, it will also break informational links. As a genealogist, it frankly stuns me to think of the yawning chasm this action will create for this child should he or she decide to trace their family tree in the years to come. Birth certificates are part of a set of documents called “vital records” and that’s no misnomer. Such a certificate provides a wealth of data, including the names of both parents. To purposely misidentify or omit a parent from that document will literally chop off an entire half of the child’s family tree.
And lest anyone jump up and say that the biological father’s family isn’t really family in this case or that knowledge of who he is is immaterial, allow me to remind that someone that medical history is a tricky thing to compute when you don’t have half the data. The father’s family might have a history of stroke or heart disease, specific cancers, or some kind of birth defect. Even if this child doesn’t suffer some defect personally, the risk will be carried by him or her into their own married life. The line of children to come (we assume) will deserve to be able to judge the risks based on the full picture. That’s a picture that’s being purposely cut in half on the altar of political correctness and expediency.
There are children all over the country whose loving parents aren’t the couple that produced them. They have a name on their birth certificate of someone who’s not relevant in their lives in any manner except genetically and they’re just fine. This action on the part of these 2 women isn’t being done with the child’s future in mind. There are ways to accommodate their legal needs without the vanity of seeing their own names on this child’s birth certificate. And vanity is all this is.
Vanity does not serve the child’s best interests. It is a shame the NJ judiciary doesn’t see that.