Re “For LGBTQ parents, unfinished business in the fight for equality” (Editorial, Dec. 2): As organizations representing a diverse range of individuals and families, we support enactment of all elements of the proposed Massachusetts Parentage Act that enable families to begin a child’s life with the security of fully recognized legal parents, whether through genetics, marriage, adoption, surrogacy, or reproductive technology. Equity under the law is essential.
The bill’s de facto parent section, however, goes well beyond this necessary goal. It would allow stepparents, grandparents, and other caretakers to use litigation to become third (or fourth, and so on) parents to a child, over the objections of one or both of the child’s fit parents. The Globe’s endorsement of the legislation, seemingly without consideration of the consequences of this section, is disappointing.
The overbroad de facto parent provisions would allow a wide range of court battles that could drag on and destabilize children’s lives for years. Divorced parents would find themselves in court with ex-partners of their ex-spouses. Domestic violence survivors would face harassing litigation from their former abusers. Members of the armed services would be forced to defend cases filed while deployed. These are just a few examples of the implications.
Current Massachusetts law allows de facto parents to request visitation. This serves children well. Expanding de facto parentage would not.
Laura W. Gal
Managing attorney for family law, Greater Boston Legal Services
President, Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts
Anna S. Richardson
Co-executive director, Veterans Legal Services
Jamie A. Sabino
Staff attorney, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute