AB 1951, the “Gay Birth Certificate” bill

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Guest Commentary
by Jennifer Johnson

From the Ruth Institute blog.

I have always tried to argue that there is a very serious civil outcome to redefining marriage, and it has nothing to do with religious liberty or the idea of “sacramental marriage.”

Since marriage is society’s primary way of acknowledging and understanding parenthood, redefining marriage redefines parenthood. Here in California, the affects of “SSM” and redefining parenthood are rapidly making their way through the legislature. Last year, Gov. Brown signed a bill allowing three or more legal parents for children, which was inspired by a “SSM” custody dispute.

Now we have this: AB 1951. This bill will change birth certificates to allow for a gender neutral option for parents. Gay couples will be able to list both of themselves on the child’s birth certificate. California recently did away with the terms “husband” and “wife,” because of “SSM,” and the lead legislator for that measure said that those terms were outdated and biased. I suppose we can infer the same thing for “mother” and “father.”

Contrary to assertions in certain quarters, these recent measures in California do not strengthen the idea of “family.” On the contrary, measures such as these weaken the idea of “family,” since the legal default for defining family is now based on an unreality. After all, biology says, “One father and one mother for a child.”

Like a stake in the ground, reality limits the state, but the state must accept this reality. When the state embraces an unreality, as it has in “SSM,” it has given itself a blank check to do a lot of other things.


Jennifer Johnson is the Director of Outreach for the Ruth Institute.

Admin’s note: A review of the Assembly and Senate floor votes on AB 1951 shows the following for the area delegation…







Not voting:


Comments 4

  1. SB 274 did not change the definition of presumed natural parent in establishing Parent and Child Relationship. Since 1992 California Family Law Section 7611(c)(1) and (d) already allows for anyone to be a presumed natural parent, without shared DNA. Adoptive parents are considered presumed natural parents if they on the Birth Certificates, at birth Voluntarily promise to support the child, or receives the child and offers a home at birth. There is nothing to fear.


    ‘CHAPTER 2. Establishing Parent and Child Relationship.
    7611. A person is presumed to be the natural parent of a child if the person meets the conditions provided… OR IN ANY OF THE following subdivisions:

    (c) After the child’s birth, the presumed parent and the child’s natural mother have married, or attempted to marry, each other by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and either of the following is true:
    (1) With his or her consent, the presumed parent is named as the child’s parent on the child’s birth certificate.
    (2) The presumed parent is obligated to support the child under a written voluntary promise or by court order.
    (d) The presumed parent receives the child into his or her home and openly holds out the child as his or her natural child.’

  2. SB 274 allows courts to institute something unnatural in the life of a child. The idea of “more than 2 persons with a claim to parentage” (language from SB 274) DOES undermine the idea of natural parenthood, ie, mother and father, because nature says, “One man and one woman for a child.”

    It’s true that adoptive parents have been considered presumed natural parents. But they are not natural parents. Thus, the state has codified an unreality. Are you familiar with the movement among adoptees to change this practice? Here is an example:


    I side with the adoptees here, which is one reason I argue against “SSM.” “SSM” creates another institutional structure that separates children from their origins.

  3. Unfortunately, I can imagine what “more than two persons with a claim to parentage” will be like for kids, and it isn’t a good thing. Are you familiar with an LGBT activist named Masha Gessen? She’s also known for writing a biography of Vladimir Putin and was honored at the State Department in June. Sometime in 2012 she made some remarks about marriage, children, etc., that I responded to here:


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