by Dustin Schwanger

California state senator Mark Leno (D) has introduced a bill, SB 1476, that would allow the state to recognize more than two parents for a child. According to Leno, “The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today.” What sort of “families” has this bill been created for?

The reason for the bill stems from a case in which a lesbian couple were both legal parents of a child. One parent was sent to jail, and the other was hospitalized. When the biological father attempted to take custody of the child the state denied him because the state, by law, can only legally recognize two parents. The child was put into foster care.

This is, obviously, a tragedy, a tragedy that this bill would seek to rectify in the future. However, the problem with this bill is that it seeks to solve a legal issue through providing a solution that changes the framework of society. The foundation of society is the strong and stable family consisting of a father, mother, and children. Either tragedy or maleficence sometimes necessitates one parent to assume the roles of both or grandparents or other close relatives to care for the child.

Leno’s vision of the twenty-first-century family, however, seeks to include as parents many different people related and not related to the child, thus fundamentally changing the definition of family—that is, any Tom, Dick, and/or Harry will eventually be able to be a legal parent to a child.Family now, if this bill is passed, becomes whatever a judge wants it to be.

What are the consequences to such a move? In effect, this bill, if society as a whole follows after its lead, has the possibility of ending the institution of the family. If we allow society to redefine family as anything anyone wants it to be, then family effectively means nothing.

Although Leno may have good intentions in this bill (I’m sure he’s not singlehandedly trying to destroy the family), it must be stopped. The trajectory is set. If it is not changed, if there is not a line past which society refuses to move, then society will be unalterably damaged through the inevitable destruction of the family.