Adoption Option Guide

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20 Jun

Vriend Continues To Affect Couples Adoption Plans

Posted in Uncategorized on 20.06.13 by Merlyn

Thousands of Albertans pleaded with the Klein government to invoke the notwithstanding clause in Section 33 of the charter, and override the judgment. They feared an onslaught of gay rights’ cases that would revolutionize traditional family and marriage law in the province.

hoaAt the time, Premier Ralph Klein dismissed the widely-held legal opinion that Vriend would lead to gay marriage and adoption. The premier tried to placate critics by setting up a cabinet task force to study family, marriage and education laws that would need “fencing” from future court rulings. This task force, composed of ministers Stockwell Day, Jon Havelock and Shirley McClellan, was supposed to report to caucus within six to eight weeks. After no word emerged from the committee for seven months, Justice Minister Havelock admitted October 15 that they would not be reporting before early 1999.

Meanwhile, homosexual activists are moving ahead with their agenda. The Calgary lesbians plan to challenge the definition of spouse under Section 59 (3) of the Child Welfare Act. The child-bearing lesbian in each couple became pregnant through artificial insemination from anonymous donors, and each has a son–one is 12, the other four. Adoption would provide the legal benefits of custody, access and child support for each mother’s girlfriend, as well as medical input and custodial rights in case of death.

Their chance of winning the case may be enhanced by another gay rights case currently before the Supreme Court. The controversial M. v. H. case revolves around the issue of same-sex “spousal” benefits. M. and H. were lesbian partners in Ontario who split up in 1992. They had acquired business and residential property together, and neither wanted to part with the commonly-held assets. One also wanted spousal support. The Ontario Court of Appeal held that the term spouse includes people in homosexual relationships, and concluded they should receive spousal benefits. The case was appealed last year to the Supreme Court.

hsaBehind the legal wrangling lies a potential social disaster, according to several pro-family groups. “Obviously, we are not in favour of taking children away from their natural mothers even if they are lesbians,” says Hermina Dykxhoorn, executive director of the Alberta Federation of Women United for Families. “However, children need to have the characteristics that both men and women bring to marriage and family. Studies show that families without men have children with higher dropout rates, earlier sexual activity, and an increased use of drugs and alcohol.”

Brian Rushfeldt, executive director of the Canadian Family Action Coalition, adds: “We are totally opposed to putting same sex in spousal law. Natural marriages and families are the basis for society, and we believe that the best interest of children is to have a mother and a father in a married committed relationship.”

A study last fall by psychologist Mark Genuis, director of the National Foundation for Family Research in Calgary, found little reliable data on the effects of homosexual parenting, and advocated a “kids first” policy to continue the ban on “unconventional” fostering. That report was commissioned by Social Services Minister Lyle Oberg after Morinville-area lesbian Teresa O’Riordan challenged Alberta Family and Social Services for prohibiting her from foster parenting. Her case at the Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench was adjourned this month.

Rainer Knopff, a political science professor at the University of Calgary, thinks a stable homosexual union, in the form of legal “marriage,” is preferable to unstable relationships. “It’s possible for society at large to prefer heterosexual marriage without disapproving of stable homosexual relationships,” he says. “The crucial thing is that in return for granting societal benefits to homosexual relationships there have to be some mutual obligations and responsibilities.” Professor Knopff believes that Vriend alone will not open the door to lesbian adoptions, but that the province will proceed according to M. v. H.

The Alberta Legislature has yet to build any of Mr. Klein’s “fencing” legislation, but Liberal social services critic Linda Sloan believes the two couples should not be discriminated against. In an Edmonton Journal interview she said: “They should be treated in the same fair and non-discriminatory manner all other citizens are afforded.” But Tory MLA Ron Hierath disagrees. He plans to speak against any court decision that legitimatizes the homosexual lifestyle in public policy, and he wants the government to begin formulating its response now. “With these court cases pending we better not get caught reacting again to the court’s decisions.

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