In Wisconsin, one parent is better than two

The State of Wisconsin, presumably with the goal of strengthening the traditional family, does not allow same-sex couples to marry or jointly adopt children. The (presumably) unintended consequence? Promoting single parenthood:
A woman who raised two adopted children for years in a same-sex relationship is not considered their parent under Wisconsin law, an appeals court ruled Thursday.
The court ruled against a woman who was seeking legal guardianship of two children for whom she had been a stay-at-home mother. The District 4 Court of Appeals ruled that only the woman’s former partner is their parent since the adoptions were done under the partner’s name.
Same-sex couples do not have adoption rights in Wisconsin, meaning that only one of them can be considered the legal parent. In this case, Wendy’s partner, identified in court records as Liz, was named the legal parent so the children could be added to her health care plan.
Wendy agreed to stop working and stay at home to look after the kids while Liz, an attorney, was the family’s breadwinner. The couple split up in 2008, and agreed to equally share custody of the children.
However, Wendy wanted legal recognition of her rights to the children, and she petitioned a court to be named a legal guardian. Wendy said she worries that she could not visit her children in the hospital without Liz’s permission in the event of an accident, or wouldn’t automatically get custody in the event of Liz’s death.
Without legal recognition, she said she could also have problems with daily issues such as taking them to the doctor or out of school for a vacation.
Liz initially agreed to the guardianship, but then objected to the petition. A Dane County judge sided with Liz then Wendy appealed.
The appeals court ruled that “parent” is defined under Wisconsin law as someone who is either a biological or an adoptive parent, and Wendy is neither.
The court also rejected her argument that she should be granted guardianship because the children would be harmed by “depriving them of one of the two persons who has raised them from infancy.”

People sometimes ask how a self-professed conservative can support same-sex marriage. This kind of case explains all.

11 thoughts on “In Wisconsin, one parent is better than two

  1. Ran says:

    One can argue various solutions without destroying what’s left of marriage, Damian.
    (H3ll, one can always arrive at a “conservative” argument against conservatism if one pushes hard enough. “It’s for the *children*, don’t you see?” Likewise a compassionate Christian case for sharia and honour killings. But I digress.)
    What you haven’t offered us is the curriculum being taught the children in this oh so loving environment. Poor kids will end-up with the same mindset as that angry little marxist troll Darla. They are actively being taught and living daily the opposite of everything you hold dear.
    We were told by the likes of Andrew Sullivan that lesbian relationships, in particular, were stronger and more stable than traditional marriage thus making the case for gay marriage and gay parentage. Liz and Wendy haven’t exactly helped the argument, quite frankly.
    This article ‘slpains more than some would want.

  2. Angie Schultz says:

    This was totally a Lawn Order episode from several years ago: two lesbians in Florida want a child. One is the breadwinner, the other stays home with the child. The adoption is in the breadwinner’s name.
    Breadwinner gets new girlfriend, leaves with child for New York. There’s no marriage so she can do that, ha ha ha. So stay-at-home follows her to New York, and kills her.

  3. Bruce Rheinstein says:

    “One can argue various solutions without destroying what’s left of marriage…”
    I’ve never understood how this argument is supposed to work. How does the marriage of Arnold and Steve, or Annie and Evelyn, destroy the marriage of Adam and Eve?

  4. dcardno says:

    “One can argue various solutions without destroying what’s left of marriage, Damian.”
    I like the idea of preserving the term “marriage” – for some people, it has emotional significance, and I would suggest tht it only be conveyed by a Church. That doesn’t really impinge much – Churches that offer to consecrate Priests on matchbook covers would still qualify. The State, though, has no legitimate interest in a couple’s sexuality (and neither do you, Ran) – so the legal trappings that we associate with marriage (immunity from testimony, direction of care, passage of assets on death, etc) should be made available to any couples who want them.
    “Liz and Wendy haven’t exactly helped the argument, quite frankly.”
    Ri-ight. So every divorce between hetersexual pairs is an argument against marriage, then?

  5. David says:

    Marriage is not a religious institution, it is a social one. Churches can have marriage ceremonies if they like, but such marriages are not legal without the marriage certificate.

  6. dcardno says:

    David – sure. The point is that the State has no particular interest in control of the term “marriage.” Give “marriage” to someone else, and issue ‘civil union’ or ‘civil partnership’ documentation to establish the legal rights (and obligations) that are currently associated with being a married couple.
    The documentation could either be a one-stop deal for those seeking a religious “marriage” or require two sets of signatures, pieces of paper, etc – I am really not very fussed about that part of it.

  7. Bruce Rheinstein says:

    “The point is that the State has no particular interest in control of the term ‘marriage.'”
    Call it “banana” if you want, but marriage conveys legal rights and responsibilities that the state has an interest in. Historically it has taken many different forms and predates all of the world’s major religions.
    The one argument against legalizing gay marriage I found interesting is that it would lead to the legalization of polygamy, but 1) I don’t think that one necessarily leads to the other, and 2) the practice of polygamy is gaining de facto legal acceptance due to multicultural concessions being made to the Islamic community, which is not exactly know for tolerance towards gays.
    In other words, both gay marriage and polygamy are gaining acceptance for reasons largely unrelated to each other.

  8. dcardno says:

    “Call it “banana” if you want, but marriage conveys legal rights and responsibilities that the state has an interest in.”
    Yes – but “marriage” also includes religious connotations – and comingling the two leads to conflict over how they should be managed. By separating the issues that State has an interest in (taxation, legal obligatns and rights of the indivuduals involved, direction of care during incapacity, etc) into a new and differently-named construct we avoid that confusion. Each church can then set its own conditions for solemnization of marriage that reflect its own traditions and beliefs, and the State can maintain a parallel process that confers the aspects in which the State has an interest. For those couples who have no religious inclination, they can proceed to the State-sanctioned arrangements directly; others would likely do both.

  9. Bruce Rheinstein says:

    So even though marriage predates all of the world’s major religions, the word should be reserved for religious institutions and those who are not religious should be consigned to “civil union,” instead?
    It seems you are the one seeking to change the status quo. No longer would we refer to people as married or single, we’d refer to them as married, civily united, or single.
    And the only real commonality among “married” would be that they were married according to the differing rules of a religous institution, be it the Roman Catholic Church, Church of Scientology, a Wiccan coven, Voodoo hounfouror, or a Mosque.

  10. dcardno says:

    People would refer to themselves and to each other in whatever way they like, Bruce, as they always have. The real point is to separate the State’s interests from the Churches.’ It seems ridiculous to me that we see arguments that because a particular religious group has particular teachings about “marriage” that the State should perforce ensure that all “marriages” meet those standards – or contrariwise, that because the State has certain obligations with respect to equal treatment that all Churches should be compelled to adopt similar standards.

  11. David says:

    As Bruce has said, marriage predates all religions. It is a civil, political, union. If religions want to have their own ceremonies piggy-backing on marriage, that’s fine. They can call it, as they’ve always called it, “holy matrimony”, “religious union” or whatever they like.

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