CA SB 1476 Doesn’t Redefine Parent, Rather Allows For More Than Two
A bill that the Children’s Advocacy Institute helped draft and that would allow children to have more than two legal parents is making its way through the California Legislature, and making some national headlines along the way.
The bill, authored by State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), was inspired by a situation in 2011 in which a girl was placed in foster care instead of being placed with her biological dad, with whom she had a relationship, because he was unable to be recognized as a parent while the girls two legal parents were unavailable to care for her. Since there was a legal limit of only two parents, the judge in the case was not able to place the little girl in a home that would best serve her best interests.
SB 1476 is drafted to reflect changing family dynamics, such as divorced and re-married parents, certain adoption situations or circumstances where children were born out of wedlock. The bill has currently passed the State Senate and is awaiting a vote in the California Assembly, which should come by August.
“In a perfect world, every child would have two parents, nobody would die, nobody would get divorced,” says CAI director Bob Fellmeth. “But we’re not in a perfect world, and from a child’s point of view, if she has two mommies and one daddy, then as a child advocate you better believe we want all three of them legally equipped to represent that child’s best interests.
Under SB 1476, all parents would have to qualify as a parent under existing legal standards before a judge could consider recognizing them.
The bill recently made national headlines after a Sacramento Bee article highlighted the bill shortly after it was approved by the State Senate. Local news affiliates picked up the story, and national outlets such as NPR, Fox and The Huffington Post all covered the issue, with even Rush Limbaugh weighing in on the matter.
What Limbaugh and other SB 1476 opponents have done is to look at the bill through the lens of the debate on legalizing same-sex marriage. However, Leno and CAI continue to be clear that the bill does nothing to change the definition of a parent, but rather seeks only to help judges rule in the best interest of children should they be in a situation in which life’s circumstances have provided them with more than two individuals who love and care for them as a parent.
As Leno told ABC News, the bill is “not touching the definition of a parent under the current law. When a judge recognizes that a child is likely to find his or her way into foster care and if there is an existing parent who qualifies as a legal parent, why not have the law when it is required to protect the well-being of the child?”
You can submit a letter to show your support of SB 1476. A sample support letter can be found at: http://www.caichildlaw.org/Misc/Sample_Support_Letter_SB1476.doc .