The Case of Two Fathers in Texas


You have probably seen this news article. It has been reported in the Huffington Post, MSNBC, Daily Kos, and many others. I started with the one from Queerty because I like their motto. But also, I want to show that even with the extremes connected to this story (toggling between Queerty and Christian Post), that whatever point they are trying to make, it’s never about the child.

Here’s the one from The Christian Post:

In the Queerty article, it’s all about a meanie judge who refuses to put the name of either man on the birth certificates of the sons born to them via an egg “donor” (don’t get me started) and a “surrogate” (again…don’t get me started). The men are legally married, but not in Texas. Even if marriage equality existed there, I doubt it would make a difference. The law has not kept up with the Brave New World of baby-making.

Before DNA testing and artificial fertility enhancements were commonplace, the two lines for parents on a birth certificate were designated for 1) the mother, who was obvious and 2) the presumed father, who was the man married to the mother. That was the best anyone could do as far as determining the paternal line, so that was made law. It is still true today. If the surrogate, the “Rent-a-Womb”, was married, that man would be the twins’ legal (and presumed biological) father.  The truth doesn’t matter. Law trumps biology.

To muddy the waters further, the birth mother in this case is really the birthing mother, the gestational carrier. She shares no DNA with the babies. That came from an egg donor. (Note: It is only when parting with one’s own genetic material for the purpose of creating new people — for money — that it is considered a “donation”.) The fathers want the surrogate’s name struck from the birth certificate(s), so the children have no recorded mother whatsoever, only a father, and then they would adopt each others’ sons so the boys would be brothers legally as well as biologically, and amended birth certificates would be made with two fathers for each child, and no mother at all.

That’s all very nice, in their world, but back to reality: What about those little individuals who were so deliberately created? In the Christian Post article, the Family Research Council says they are all for the rights of biological parents, however, “cases such as the one in Texas should not be used as a back-door method of redefining marriage, nor of affirming parental arrangements that deliberately deny, and deprive a child of, the benefits of having both a mother and a father.”

So, in other words, as long as the Family Research Council doesn’t have to promote the gay agenda through marriage equality, people can have babies any way they want. But do they, really? They are concerned about children not having “the benefit” of both a father and mother, but what goes on a birth certificate does not determine what goes on in that child’s home. Are they saying any unmarried woman who refuses to name the baby’s father can’t have a birth certificate either? Does she have to come up with just a name, or a warm-blooded male to stand up, or does she have to get married? And even if she did all that, would the Family Research Council check in on her, to make sure the baby had “the benefit of both a mother and father” (presumably the same mother and father) a few years down the road?

Obviously not. Because if it is the FRC’s focus to give biological parents’ rights, then where does that leave “birth” parents? The despised “sperm donors” turned deadbeat dads, and the whores that are “birthmothers”? In the case of adoption, who is being served?

If you said the ones with the money, you are correct. That would be the adoptive parents. But even then, unless the couple is so wealthy that they can buy a judge, groups like the FRC want a wholesome, heterosexual, married couple to be the mommy and daddy. At that point, you can forget about the importance of biology.

That’s why the judge won’t expunge the not-mother’s name from the birth certificates and add only the bio-dads’: Because it doesn’t look good. It’s not Traditional.

Has anyone considered the sons, these half-brothers, who will be babies for only a short time, and will one day grow up and ask: Who is my mother? Everyone is so wrapped up in the fathers’ rights, the “right” of the women who sold their bodies to make these children, the right of marriage equality and adoptive parents, and (supposedly) the right of children to have both a mother and a father, but what about the right to have the truth on your birth certificate? When will the right of the individual be worth something?

In this day and age, we have the DNA testing necessary to prove parentage beyond a shadow of a doubt. There is no excuse to further this self-serving game of pretend. The names of the biological parents should be on the birth certificate. If a third line is necessary to include a gestational carrier, so be it. But let the facts be true, not what makes a judge or council or even the prospective adoptive parents comfortable.

Elle Cuardaigh is author of The Tangled Red Thread

5 thoughts on “The Case of Two Fathers in Texas

  1. Comment: PS It’s been rightly pointed out that a birth certificate is meant as a record of *birth* so the mother would be the one who gave birth. Also, that calling a surrogate a “gestational carrier” is dismissive of the bonding that no doubt takes place between mother-child in utero.

    Several thoughts:

    Record of birth. If it is strictly concerning an event and nothing more, why is a father listed? Did he give birth? The certificate is also assumed to show parentage. Parentage meaning genetic, not social. That’s what we as adoptees are fighting for. We have the “real” (social, legal, spiritual) parents listed on our amended birth certificates, via adoption. We expect the truth (genetic/biological) on the originals.

    As another adoptee said, a birth certificate should not be looked at as a title of ownership. I agree. But, to show the facts, the names of the people providing the genetic material to create the person the certificate pertains to must be included, or it’s worthless. If that means adding a third line, one for genetic mother and one for birthing mother, so be it.

    You cannot trace ancestors thru a surrogate. Although yes, bonding no doubt takes place, the surrogate did not provide DNA. If the child breastfed from yet another woman, would that woman also need to be listed somewhere as a mother? In Islamic culture and possibly elsewhere, breastmilk is thought to bind to the bones of the child, biologically connecting woman and child. So would a wetnurse need to be added to an amended birth certificate?

    I’m not saying a surrogate is not a mother. I’m saying the criteria for birth certificates is lacking and needs to catch up. We have simple DNA testing now. We supposedly have oversight concerning egg and sperm sales. (I’m not going to call a paid service a donation.) There is no *good* reason in this day and age to deprive (as the Family Research Council says) any child the benefit of a mother and a father. And that should start with getting the facts straight on the birth certificate.

  2. Elle you have much to say here and I think truth on the original BC is the main point and I completely agree. There is convolution when it comes to anonymous egg and sperm use. Not sure how that could be resolved. Or if it can be resolved.

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