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'Ozzie and Harriet families' targeted in California

| Monday, July 2, 2012, 8:28 p.m.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Beaver had June and Ward.

Ricky had Ozzie and Harriet.

Mom and Dad, same-sex couples or blended families, California law is clear: No more than two legal parents per child.

When adults fight over parenthood, a judge must decide which two have that right and responsibility — but that could end soon.

State Sen. Mark Leno is pushing legislation to allow a child to have more parents.

“The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today,” the San Francisco Democrat said.

Surrogate births, same-sex parenthood and assisted reproduction are changing society by creating new possibilities for nontraditional households and relationships.

Benjamin Lopez, legislative analyst for the Traditional Values Coalition, blasted Leno's bill as a new attempt to “revamp, redefine and muddy the waters” of family structure by a leader in the drive to legalize gay marriage.

“It comes as no surprise that he would try to say that a child has more than two parents — that's absurd,” Lopez said.

Under Leno's bill, if three or more people who acted as parents could not agree on custody, visitation and child support, a judge could split those things up among them.

SB 1476 is not meant to expand the definition of who can qualify as a parent, only to eliminate the limit of two per child.

Under law, a parent can be a man who signs a voluntary declaration of paternity. It also can be a man who was married and living with a child's mother, or who took a baby into his home and represented the infant as his own.

Leno's bill, which has passed the Senate and is now in the Assembly, would apply equally to men or women, and to straight or gay couples.

Examples of three-parent relationships that could be affected by SB 1476 include:

• A family in which a man began dating a woman while she was pregnant, then raised that child with her for seven years. The youth also had a parental relationship with the biological father.

• A same-sex couple who asked a close male friend to help them conceive, then decided that all three would raise the child.

• A divorce in which a woman and her second husband were the legal parents of a child, but the biological father maintained close ties as well.

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