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A Little Girl Called ‘M.C.’

The Collateral Damage from Same-Sex Marriage

By Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D

This article was first published September 25, 2012, at Break Point.org.

The policy proposal known as “same-sex marriage” is actually a proposal to redefine marriage. Instead of being a gender-based institution oriented toward the procreation of children and the good of the spouses, what is called “same-sex marriage” makes marriage into a genderless institution, oriented toward the good of adults only. Any possible negative consequences for children, according to this way of thinking, are not worth considering. We, and the children themselves, must simply accept any negative outcomes as collateral damage on the road to the nirvana of “marriage equality.”

A little girl known only to the public as M.C. is a public victim of the redefinition of marriage in California. If lukewarm Christians are tempted to sit out the marriage battle because they find it too contentious and emotional, they might give a moment’s thought to the situation of M.C.

Little M.C. was born in March 2009, to a woman named Melissa. Melissa had contracted a marriage with a woman named Irene in October 2008, during the window of time that same-sex marriage was permitted in California. Melissa had become pregnant with M.C. by a man named Jesus in the summer of 2008, prior to the state-sanctioned “marriage” ceremony.

Melissa and M.C. lived with Irene for 3or 4 weeks after M.C.’s birth. When Melissa moved out, Irene attempted to obtain joint legal and physical custody of M.C. Melissa got in touch with Jesus, the child’s father, who had since moved to Oklahoma. He sent her money, and stayed in contact with her.

Melissa was not happy with Irene’s continuing attempts to be involved with her and M.C. In September 2009, Melissa’s new boyfriend, José, attacked Irene, stabbing her so severely that she had to be hospitalized. Melissa was imprisoned, charged with accessory to attempted murder.

M.C. was taken into foster care. At that point, the urgent question arose: Who are her parents? Who can and should care for M.C. while her mother, Melissa, serves her prison sentence?

The courts found that M.C., for all intents and purposes, had three parents, recognized under different parts of the law. Melissa counted as a mother because she gave birth to the child. Irene was married to Melissa when Melissa gave birth to M.C. The courts applied a concept called the presumption of paternity. Under that concept, a woman’s husband is presumed to be the father of any children she gives birth to during the life of their union. Thanks to the redefinition of marriage to be a genderless institution, the family courts felt obligated to do a gender-neutral reading of this statute, transforming the “presumption of paternity” into a gender-neutral “presumption of parentage.”

Therefore, Irene counted as a presumed mother, or maybe I should say a “presumed generic parent.” However, she was not in any position to take care of M.C. in the short term, due to her injuries from being stabbed. She also had a history of domestic violence.

What about Jesus? No court ever denied that Jesus was a father. Nor did any court find him an unfit father in any way. So with Melissa in prison and Irene in the hospital, why couldn’t the court simply give M.C. to Jesus, her biological father?

The courts declined to place M.C. with Jesus because this would jeopardize what they saw as the child’s interest in reunification with Irene. Bear in mind that Irene was not the biological mother. She was not an adoptive mother. She had lived with Melissa and M.C. for about three or four weeks after the child was born. Irene, in short, was not a mother to M.C. in any meaningful sense.

Irene was a “presumed” mother for one reason and one reason only: same-sex marriage. That marriage is what prompted the court to call Irene a “presumed mother,” under a gender-neutral reading of the Uniform Parentage Act.

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