You'd think California legislators would have enough problems to solve with 2 million Californians unemployed, chronic budget deficits and record high poverty rates.
But no, during the just-ended session, legislators had plenty of time for more social engineering passing bills that redefine marriage, give children more than two "parents" and meddle in parental rights to teach children their own religious beliefs.
Family advocates and faith leaders were not pleased.
This session, the California Legislature has passed legislation that compromises religious liberty, the definition of marriage, the rights of parents and other critical family issues, according to Bill May, president of the San Francisco-based Catholics for the Common Good.
Is it the job of government officials to define marriage? Family? Parenthood? Right and wrong?
Is government replacing God? Are politicians replacing parents?
Consider just a few of the bills, currently on the governor's desk to sign or veto, that were once prerogatives of moral teaching protected, not superseded, by the state:
Senate Bill 1140 by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, attempts to redefine marriage again this time as "a personal relation arising out of a civil, and not religious, contract."
The bill, sponsored by gay marriage advocates, specifies that religious authorities will "not be required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary" to their faith. But religious freedom is already guaranteed by the U.S. and California constitutions. With the passage of Proposition 8 four years ago, "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." There is no need for Leno's bill except to slip in a new definition of marriage, create confusion and open up the door to more lawsuits.
But the Moses of Mount Tamalpais did not stop there. A simple tweaking of the Fifth Commandment and we now have, "Honor thy fathers and thy mothers." Leno's SB 1476 allows judges to recognize three or more legal "parents" for a child.
The measure, co-written by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, opens up the door for more alternative families to seek legal recognition of their relationships. The change could affect, for example, a same-sex couple and a male friend who helped them conceive; or cohabiting heterosexual partners and a biological parent.
Proponents claim that the bill gives the child the right to support "from all her parents," as well as "access to health insurance, benefits and inheritance rights." But opponents, including the Association of Family Conciliation Courts and the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists, warn of serious unintended consequences, due to no limitation on the number of potential parents; additional conflict for children being torn between the claims of multiple "parents"; and conflicting state and federal laws relating to citizenship, tax deductions, educational proceedings, Social Security and probate, to name a few.
Yes, there has been a breakdown of the traditional family over the past decades, but should we encourage a societal trend that has generally been harmful to children or should we continue to hold up the ideal?
While some children living in nontraditional families do OK, on average, some are more likely to suffer financially, do poorly in schools and have emotional and behavioral problems compared to those in stable, married-couple families, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other studies.
Yet now legislators want to create even more alternative family structures as though they're playing a game of Lego, without any scientific knowledge of the impact on children and families.
In another attack on the family, SB 1172, by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, bans licensed therapists from helping children with unwanted same-sex attractions or confusion, even if they specifically ask for help and if their parents want to support them. This measure is not about "equality or civil rights," but about "outlawing speech," according to the Pacific Justice Institute, which has pledged to sue if the measure is signed, as an unconstitutional restriction on parental rights, privacy rights and First Amendment rights.
In a telling statement, Lieu acknowledged that the bill is an attack on parental rights "because we don't want to let parents harm their children."
A related measure, Assembly Bill 1856 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, mandates that all foster parents receive instruction supporting their foster children's sexual choices, infringing on parental rights to teach their children what they believe.
Our nation was founded on the principle that our rights are derived from "the laws of Nature and of Nature's God." Government was established to protect those rights, not replace them with the dictates of contemporary legislative deities.