Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 15, 2007
A royal commission on the family?
After court rules child has 3 parents, groups say it's time to study fallout from changing family law.
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
In the wake of a court ruling that a child raised by a lesbian couple has three parents, pro-marriage groups are calling for a royal commission on the family.
They say governments have been letting the courts make the hard decisions and have avoided seriously studying the social ramifications of rapidly changing law in the area.
In its Jan. 2 decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal recognized the child has three legal parents and has accorded equal rights and obligations to the lesbian partner in addition to the child's biological mother and father.
The decision overturned a lower court decision limiting rights to two parents.
What's the limit?
Phil Horgan, president of the Catholic Civil Rights League, said future court rulings can be expected to increase the number of a child's legal parents even higher than three.
"In this case, the obvious question is that if a child can have three parents, who is to say three is the limit?" he asked in a Jan. 2 news release.
Focus on the Family Canada, the Institute for Canadian Values and the Canadian Family Action Coalition are asking Ottawa for a royal commission, led by a prominent Canadian to study the future of the Canadian family.
The league intervened in the so-called Three Parents' Case along with several other groups including the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
"This is another unfortunate example of allowing the courts to make decisions in areas where the government should be determining public policy," said EFC general legal counsel Don Hutchinson.
"In this instance a difficult and emotionally charged situation has been met with a decision that will have a definite ripple effect throughout our society."
Hutchinson said the case raises not only the question of how many parents each child may now have, but also what determines the number of parents. Is it sexual orientation? Divorce and remarriage? Will the number of parents per child eventually impact the number of spouses allowed in a marriage?
"The process that governments in Canada are now using to redefine social policy is seriously flawed," said Douglas Cryer, EFC director of public policy.
"Rather than coming up with a substantive social policy relating to the family, governments have been addressing the issue in a piecemeal fashion, leaving the hard choices to the courts.
"The courts examine mostly the facts of the particular case, rather than considering the broader social ramifications, which is something governments have the ability to do. The government has failed to study the potential negative impact on children generally."
The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) is another organization calling for further study.
"The kind of research we need now in Canada concerns the impact on children of redefining parenthood," said COLF director Michele Boulva in a Jan. 2 telephone interview.
"It should also be a call to develop a global family policy that gives priority to children's rights and needs over adult desires, because children are our future. The governments can't let the courts decide these matters."
As well, in a Dec. 18 letter to the prime minister, Archbishop Andre Gaumond, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, called on the government to launch further study on the long-term impact of the redefinition of marriage.