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Procedural bill gets politicized by policy provocateurs

The extreme irony of the situation is that those who were not trying to make it a policy issue were accused by those making it a policy issue of exactly that.

This center of contention was HB 60 by state Rep. Jonathan Perry which was clarifying state law concerning who may be listed on a birth certificate as parents of an adoptive child. The bill would make it a legal obligation that state practice follows the Louisiana Constitution’s designation of the kinds of married couples that may adopt, and therefore be listed on the certificate, which is a man and a woman.

A case making its way through the judicial system prompted the bill to clarify state procedure. Two males who by New York law may jointly be considered adoptive parents requested a birth certificate for their child born in Louisiana. The Constitution prohibited listing an all-male couple on the certificate but does permit the listing of a single individual since single individuals may adopt in the state. The males sued to have both names placed on it and a lower federal court agreed that brought an appeal from the state.

Proponents of the bill pointed out it merely was a procedural nicety to allow enforcement of the U.S. Constitution’s “full faith and credit clause.” Otherwise, since the procedures of issuing a birth certificate are not stated specifically in the law, just that the law says adoption is accomplished with a “married” couple and a “married” couple cannot be of the same sex by the Constitution, the transitive principle seems not to apply and New York’s interest would override Louisiana’s. But by having the explicit clarification that birth certificates are issued only listing names consistent with Louisiana law, as defined by the Constitution, Louisiana can successfully resist other states’ defining what constitutes a legal adopting couple in Louisiana.

But what is to its proponents a case of defending Louisiana’s rights relative to other states is to opponents a way to block their political agenda. These groups, which support the concept of same sex marriage prohibited in the Louisiana Constitution, found this case to be a means to chip away at this defeat. But defeated both politically and intellectually, the only avenue left for them were emotive and disingenuous arguments that were on full display at the House’s Health and Welfare Committee’s hearing on the bill.

One testified the bill would target children, “depriving” them of the “right” to have multiple parents listed on a birth certificate because Louisiana “didn’t like” their parents, and that the certificate was needed to access many services where either “parent” could be present to help access those services. Another claimed to not put both names, even if the pair had no legal relationship in the state, was “fraudulent,” and said the real motive was to “beat up on gays.” These fantastic charges were never evident in the rhetoric of the bill’s supporters and actually exist only in the victimhood-addled minds of these people that equate anybody who opposes their agenda as wanting to “beat up” on those who practice homosexuality.

As well, they were entirely disingenuous. Opposition witnesses had legal backgrounds so they surely know that custody rulings and powers of attorneys in every state would permit somebody who is not listed as a parent on a birth certificate to make any decision on behalf of a child where a birth certificate was required, no matter what state they were in physically. As shameful was the tactic of trying to argue the bill somehow was against children, because the bill had nothing to do with restricting a child’s rights in any way. This whole tactic, just as the actual court case itself, reprehensibly used children as political pawns – the old strategy of accusing your opponents of doing what you are to draw attention away from that – and mirrored the larger grand strategy of politicizing the issue by asserting your opponents of doing exactly that.

In the end, few on the committee bought this and the bill passed it, with the process revealing that in fact opponents treated the occasion as an opportunity to leave intact an attempt to change policy to their liking through judicial fiat. Thanks to the committee majority, rule by law, not by political power, got a little boost and hopefully the entire Legislature and governor will emulate that.

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