Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Are we similar?

I just got back from doing an interview on Radio Active. (a local, progressive radio show) The topic was something like "What does it mean to be a family?" How do we define family/parent? Who determines was a legitimate family is? Who can & can't participate? I was a guest, along with Kate (NCLR), Gina (local mom) and ... a bio dad. Interesting. The idea on the different perspectives was to point out that our issues are more about civil rights and not gay rights. And that by joining together, we're bigger and louder and will make more of an impact. Again, interesting.

Right away I could see right away there was misunderstanding amongst us. The dad thought we should all be focused on our rights as parents and not necessarily the rights of our children. He and his friends think that going the route of "best interest of the child" can actually hurt the parental rights cause. I'm sure he's right. What he doesn't realize is that we have no parental rights. The right to due process doesn't apply to us. In fact, we're not even allowed in the courtroom under the title of "parent". If we begin by asking for rights of our own, we start ten steps back from where we just LOST!

I know he means well. I've been speaking with him for a few months. His mentor has done a lot of speaking on my case and I've sort of become the gay example of a father in the "father's rights arena". Because there is bias against dads vs. moms, they think it's comparable to bio vs. non-bio. In many ways, it's true. As a non-bio, I was the financial provider and spent less time in the home. I did that so my daughter would not have to be in day-care the first two years of her life. I did that as a sacrifice for her. We made the decision together. We budgeted. It worked out and I'm grateful for it. But I was punished for it. In court they said things like, "you aren't the primary care giver" "you don't have the same bond as a stay at home mom would". I was punished for doing something I thought was best for our daughter. Dads too. Judges assume that dads aren't as emotionally connected and don't have quality time with their kids and it simply isn't fair.

Another take because now my mind is really going...

If a child is born to two parents and the relationship ends, why isn't first thought "50/50"? I mean, there is study after study saying if it's possible, it's best for children to have equal parent time. But still, most States (including UT) go right for that typical split which is usually about 11%. I'm not a dad but that definitely doesn't seem fair to me. If they're willing to have 1/2 time, why not? And if so, why child support? This gets sticky, I know. I know every situation is different and mine was definitely different. I never even peeped at my visitation schedule because I was grateful & desperate for every minute. And I also have never had a problem with paying child support. But what if I were able to be in Gray's life 1/2 time? What if we could do week to week like some parents and we were each responsible for that time? How would child support work then?

This dad, and many dads, are saying that child support is an "out" for their wives. I don't believe that's true. Maybe in some cases but I know that in many, dads aren't involved on a day to day basis and having the financial support is necessary. I guess I'm just trying to find a way to validate his argument and say that each parent should be given the opportunity to participate. And they should be obligated to step up after a split/divorce. We should have to keep our promises, routines and responsibilities for our kids.

Any thoughts?