Maxims of William Penn. (1644–1718).
On July 22nd, the Boston Globe reported that Barnstable Town Clerk Linda Hutchenrider made an odd request of Governor Romney – she wants birth certificates changed to read ‘Mother’ and ‘Second Parent’. This is to accommodate same-sex couples who will be having children, she says.
According to the Globe,
“In 2004, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, there were 61 children born to married same-sex couples out of about 80,000 children born in the state, according to data from the Department of Public Health. This year, the number stood at 75 by the end of June. "It doesn't matter if there's only one or 500," Hutchenrider said. "They all deserve to have proper birth records."
Ms. Hutchenrider is perfectly correct. They do deserve to have proper birth records. But no amount of fantasy will allow a same-sex couple to ever have a child.
If the couple is a lesbian one, then one could give birth but the other parent will be ‘unknown’ or ‘Sperm Donor 127-05’ as the case may be. Under no circumstances outside of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie will one of the partners in a male same-sex couple give birth, not even if one of them is Nathan Lane!
Ask adoptive children – birth certificates have the names of the people who conceived them, not who raised them, no matter how wanted or nurtured they might be. Why would this be different? Why in heavens name would we want to pollute the stream of factual information about who the actual biological mother and father of a child is in favor of a lace-paper-valentine view that the people who raise a child really gave birth to them? One of the biggest issues in getting the records of so-called confidential adoptions unsealed has been the need for accurate information regarding the medical histories of birth parents. We are standing at the doorway of genetically oriented medecine; withing 20 years, the single most important diagnostic tool doctors will have is an accurate genetic history, not only to cure disease but to prevent it.
If we are sending babies home with birth certificates that read Frank and Ted, instead of giving the names of the biological parents, we are condemning that child to ignorance in favor of the vanity of the parents. Birth certificates are not diplomas to be displayed on a wall, but legal records.
The response of Eric Fehrnstrom on behalf of Gov. Romney that
“…The health department has been advising hospitals to alter the documents since last year and that the governor believes the hand-altered certificates are valid. "As long as they're recorded, they're valid.”is, well, nonsense. Politically correct nonsense, to be sure, but a lowering of standards for the Romney administration, which usually tries to be sensible.
Of course gay couples can raise children and be good parents. But they can never give birth to a child. Linda Hutchenrider would be better off remembering what the charge of her office is – the recording and preservation of accurate records, rather than the advancement of a dubious political agenda.
(Kudos to Mat Margolis of Hub Politics for highlighting this – heavens knows, we’ll never read about the Barnstable Town Clerk in the Cape Cod Times!)