To celebrate Father’s Day this year, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court in North Carolina basically implying that fathers are expendable commodities, and children can be used as pawns in an ideological challenge to a state law that rightly favors households with a married mother and father for adoption purposes. The lead plaintiffs are two women, Marcie and Chantelle Fisher-Borne, who each carried a child and are now demanding that state law recognize them as the “other mother” to the respective children. However, North Carolina law understands the biological reality that a child cannot have two “moms,” hence the lawsuit. Several observations come to mind:
First, the case distorts the purpose of adoption. States implemented the adoption process to ensure that children who have lost their parents, or whose parents cannot care for them, are placed with a responsible father and mother to raise them. Hence, the focus of the adoption system has been the best interests of the children. But the ACLU’s lawsuit shifts that focus to adults, claiming a general “right” for adults to adopt a child, regardless of the child’s circumstances.
In this lawsuit, the children become objects in an effort to shift North Carolina’s adoption laws away from children and toward “adult rights,” and it also targets North Carolina’s wise public policy that children are best raised by a father and a mother.
And where’s Dad in this lawsuit? These women would not have borne any children except with the help of the father, but the ACLU’s lawsuit pushes him offstage. This lawsuit seeks to dehumanize men by making them merely accessories to baby-production, and fragmenting the father by divorcing his reproductive capacity from his role of raising his children.
On Father’s Day 2008, President Obama had a rare lucid moment on this issue with a speech he gave in Chicago, reminding the crowd how he knows “what it means to have an absent father,” and that “we need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception,” and that what matters is “not the ability to have a child — it’s the courage to raise one.”
This lawsuit would benefit from a focus on the recent study by Mark Regnerus, of the University of Texas, that demonstrated children have better social outcomes when raised by their own father and mother than by same-sex couples. The study also points out flaws in earlier studies that claim no differences between children raised by same-sex couples and those raised by opposite-sex couples.
The ACLU’s lawsuit gives the illusion of promoting parental rights, but that is a façade. Parents’ rights will not be advanced by a lawsuit that treats fathers as expendable commodities. It will only serve to promote the desires of adults who, by design, want to deprive children the benefit of being raised by their own fathers.
— Jordan Lorence is senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, which is actively defending marriage laws and amendments throughout the U.S.