*Preface: I must emphasise that we collected approximately 200 letters in support of same sex parenting. The naysayers were definitely in the minority.

Today I went along to Brisbane’s International Lesbian Day function. PFLAG had kindly paid for us to have a stall to let people know about the same sex parenting & altruistic surrogacy campaign, and we spent the afternoon with a pile of pro forma letters to MPs, asking people to write to their own state Member while they were there.

A few people refused to sign, quite adamantly. “I’m having a terrible custody battle with my ex and I don’t think non-biological parents should have rights,” was the line I counted from at least four women. One woman stood by the stall for a couple of minutes, talking others out of signing. “Don’t sign this, it takes away the rights of mothers,” she told another passerby, who wandered off, confused.

I was flabbergasted at the time, and have been angry since. Lesbians and gay men are at a crossroads. We haven’t had recognition for so long, and in some cases this has worked in our favour. It was very pleasant to be on the single parents’ pension, even though I was in a relationship, for the first eighteen months of my children’s lives. In the lead up to June 30 this year, I heard of two couples who were moving into separate houses so they would not be considered couples and lose their welfare benefits. We are being forced to assess our relationships. In this relationship, are we truly interested in being interdependent? Or are we just living together because it’s easy? Are you Ms Right, or just Ms Right Now?

For lesbian biological parents in the states where our partners aren’t recognised (Qld, SA, Tas), it’s easy to cop out. We can make a decision to co-parent, then walk away.

Let’s assume that the ex-partner was terrible. Say she was violent, or emotionally abusive. You don’t want her having contact with your (joint) kids. I get that. We’ve all had partners we’d rather forget about. But when do we get to decide that they are meaningless in our children’s lives?

I know that the legal system leaves a LOT to be desired. I don’t doubt that the woman standing in front of the stall talking people out of signing feels like she has really been done over by the legal system. But she did choose to have a child with her horrible ex-partner. These are important decisions we are making, not throwaway ones. Straight women have children with f*@%wit men all the time. It’s unfortunate, it really is. And I know we choose these partners due to our own horrible childhoods, bad parental role models, co-dependence and socialised female roles. But the horrible straight men are still their children’s fathers, even when the parents separate.

These are kids we are creating. We need to think about the weight of the decisions we are making. If you choose to create a child with this person – whether they are biologically connected to the child or not – they are going to be in your life, and your child’s, forever. Yes, we will make mistakes. And that is where the legal system, mediation & counselling, with all their faults (and they are significant, so lobby to change those) come in.

And non-biological parents getting recognition is not “taking away the rights of mothers”. They ARE mothers. That is the point.

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