Our state is finally changing its laws to recognise female same sex parents of children conceived using donor sperm. The changes won’t apply to same sex couples who adopt a child or to male same sex couples who use a surrogate (those topics are being considered separately) but it’s something.
It will mean that the non-bio mother can be on the birth certificate and that she is automatically assumed to be the child’s legal parent. At the moment, the birth mother has parental status and the non-birth mother has no more legal rights than the postie.
It has never presented a big issue for us, but that’s only because we have been lucky. People have, for the most part, been willing to accept us both as the parents of our children, and to treat us accordingly. When Hunter was in hospital a couple of years ago, Leigh was given the same free access to come and go as I was (though I suppose there would have been an issue had she been there alone and needed to authorise a treatment). At preschool the teachers will discuss issues with either of us and are very comfortable with the idea that Hunter has two mums. Our doctor talks to both of us when we’re there with the kids.
But, like I said, that’s just luck. It will mean so much to actually have leigh’s rights as a parent – and our children’s rights to be acknowledged as having two real and equal parents – enshrined in law. We won’t have to think about whether I should sign paperwork ‘just in case’ or worry that someone may overrule leigh’s word or restrict her access to our children.
The symbolism of the move is at least as important to me as the practical implications. It recognises a shift in the way society thinks about same sex parents and their children. For those who already support our fight for rights, it is a sweet reward. For those who do not, it’s a nice dose of peer pressure.
So this morning we were forwarded an email from the Rainbow Babies group looking for families prepared to participate in media interviews. We’ve volunteered, as we always do. We’ve featured in several magazines now, so perhaps they’ll want some new faces for this campaign (because we’re, you know, way too famous) but if they want us to share our stories, then we will.