This afternoon we’re treating (punishing!) you with some fancy anonymous Democratic guest blogging from, well, an unnamed Democrat who worked deeply on the 2008 general election. Because we’re in meetings and such all afternoon and into the early evening.
Here ya go:
There’s a bill in the state house right now–HB 28– that has religious conservatives up in arms. This is, in and of itself, not horribly unusual. Religious conservatives get up in arms over the thought that they’re being denied equal access to a godly license plate, so I try not to pay them too much mind (before you criticize too much, bear in mind that I’ve come over the past several weeks to view myself as a religious liberal, even– so this isn’t about the intervention of God in the story). Let’s go to the ususally-homophobic Marty Cothran for the tale of the tape…
The bill, House Bill 28, would allow the father of child born from an adulterous relationship with a married woman to claim parental rights to the child even after the woman had reconciled with her husband. The bill would effectively overturn the Rhoades v. Rickett’s decision in which the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled last year that the marriage prevailed over the biological father’s claim.
“At a time when we need to be strengthening the legal status of marriage, this bill weakens it,” said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky. “A marriage does not automatically end when one party to the marriage commits adultery, but that would be the legal effect of this bill.”
He continues later in the day to assert that his opposition is based in part on the fact that the passage of HB 28 into law would allow rapists to assert parental rights. Yes, because prior to Rhoades v Ricketts there were rapists asserting parental rights willy-nilly. We could really get in the weeds here, as Carey allows himself to do– rapists are asserting parental rights? Really? But there are bigger fish to fry, because as a straight, not always chaste man, I’m more than a little upset about the loss of paternal rights here.
You see, there has been, for some time, quite a bit of righteous outrage over women’s bodies, and the rights that come along with being able to use those bodies to create another living being. But men have been off the hook, more or less because we don’t have to carry the child. That argument, however, comes with a clear-cut expiration date. And this is going to open a very large can of worms: the date of fetal viability. Yeah. HB 28 isn’t just about adultery and rape and holding down the gays like Marty Cothran wants you to think. It’s also about aboriton. But what did I say? I’m not getting in the weeds. There are multi-million dollar organizations that talk about aborition on both sides of the aisle. But what about paternal rights and responsibility? Martin Cothran’s organization has an agenda–they’re pushing against this legislation because it helps the chances that teh gays and teh sluts will never get what they want–but what about those of us outside the universe of right-wing hate?
It’s like this: marriage and childbirth are not, despite the many assertions of The Family Foundation/Focus on the Family/etc/etc a binary set. One can, and frequently does, happen without the other, and when that happens, it’s not neccesarily a bad thing (see also: Sweden, where some 70% of children are born out of wedlock). In the event of one happening without the other…we need to protect the rights of the father as much as we do the rights of the mother. So yes, the citizenry should be aflame for what the rejection of HB 28 could potentially mean for gay rights and abortion down the road. But in Kentucky, I don’t trust that that will meet muster. So try this: men who believe that they would be responsible fathers, even under the worse circumstances– this bill is for you.