Finally a sane decision. In a rather unexpected twist in the current cultural climate, the Utah Supreme Court has denied parental visitation rights to a biological stranger in favor of the biological mother.
Cheryl Barlow got pregnant through artificial insemination in 2001, only a few months after beginning a lesbian relationship with Keri Jones. They had planned for the baby together. Five months into the pregnancy, the couple entered into a civil union in Vermont, and later Barlow gave birth to a baby girl. They entered into a legal agreement where JOnes became the girl's co-guardian.
Two years later, Barlow discovered that Jones had been having an affair with another woman, and Barlow ended the relationship. Barlow then converted to Christianity, overcame her lesbian tendencies and is now no longer lesbian. She did not allow Jones to visit the baby girl, and successfully petitioned the court to have Jones removed as the girl's co-guardian. Jones sued for visitation rights.
The district court in Salt Lake City granted visitation rights to Jones. However, the Utah Supreme Court has just overturned the decision, and denied Jones any parental rights over Barlow's child. Read the full ruling here (PDF file).
So at least in this case, reason and sanity seem to have prevailed. Granted, this IS Utah, so it's not exactly representative of the general U.S. trends. However, let us rejoice in one victory at a time.
In this case at least, a biological parent won the right to raise, educate and protect her own child, without interference from a biological stranger who was only present in that child's life for the first two years. It would have been a travesty to give Jones the ability to influence that child forever.
Jones' arguments were that she had helped to "plan" for the child, that she "loved" the girl, and that the girl loved her back and called her "mommy." In other words, her argument was that LOVE and INTENT, rather than biology, is what makes a family. That argument sounds lovely, but it would open the door to chaos and to everything under the sun. Why not polygamy? Why not polyamory? But most immediately, that argument violates the natural rights of children to their own biological parents, and the natural rights of parents to their biological children.
To be fair however, Jones had a point given the situation. Jones believed that love and intent is what make a family. This is what gay and lesbian parents believe. This is what heterosexual adults using repro tech believe. (or at least, this is what they constantly repeat and try to convince themselves of). This is what Barlow surely believed too while she was with Jones. So this was the implicit agreement that Jones and Barlow had entered into. So Jones was simply sticking to the understnading that she had shared with Barlow.
Jones's trouble was that Barlow finally saw the light, and realized that such an agreement violates the natural law. It cannot have binding force, any more than any criminal pact can have binding force. Barlow was thus fully within her rights to repudiate this false understanding of parenthood and family. However, Jones remains stuck in the old mindframe. She, and all others who believe that "love is all you need," surely can't wrap their mind around this ruling by the Utah Supreme Court. They see it as a slap in the face of "love". I see it as a recognition of the natural rights which come along with undeniable biological ties between parents and their own genetic children.
Now if only they could right the other wrong done to this little girl: the fact that she was intentionally deprived of her father since conception, and will probably grow up longing for her daddy all her life.