Staver’s Second Dumbest Argument Ever

Staver’s Second Dumbest Argument Ever February 16, 2013

The dumbest legal argument Mat Staver, the dean of the Liberty University School of Law, ever made was when he tried to convince the Supreme Court that the Massachusetts gay marriage ruling was unconstitutional because allowing a court to overturn a law passed by the legislature violated the guarantee of a republican form of government (since the very court he was petitioning routinely strikes down such laws, I imagine this provoked a fair amount of laughter by the justices). But this one is a close second:

In mid-2010, two lesbians called on another homosexual to be the sperm donor in an in vitro fertilization process. The end result was a baby girl, who is now 23 months old. Circuit Court Judge Antonio Marin has approved a request to list all three adults as the parents on the birth certificate.

Mat Staver of Orlando-based Liberty Counsel tells OneNewsNow the ruling is “outrageous” because the Sunshine State has a constitutional amendment declaring marriage to be between one man and one woman.

“And anything that approximates marriage is also not permitted either, or that imitates marriage,” Staver explains. “And certainly, granting three parents rights to the same child is absolutely unbelievable. This is a polygamous relationship. This is polygamy that has occurred in Florida.”

Uh, no. A parent’s rights in regard to their children has nothing at all to do with their marital status. Parents who never get married still have full parental rights over the child. This is Orly Taitz-level stupid.

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  • sqlrob

    Three parents on the birth certificate is going to have some interesting legal fallout. How many laws implicitly assume two parents? Some of this is going to be minimized by dealing with divorced parents and remarriage, but that’s not the case here.

    Oh well, learn by doing.

  • Wes

    And certainly, granting three parents rights to the same child is absolutely unbelievable.

    So step-parents can’t have any parental rights over their step-children?

  • imrryr

    This is a polygamous relationship. This is polygamy that has occurred in Florida

    King Solomon is decidedly not turning over in his grave.

  • sqlrob

    King Solomon is decidedly not turning over in his grave.

    Sure he is. “2? That’s it?”

  • Erp

    “So step-parents can’t have any parental rights over their step-children?”

    I’m not sure they do except by delegation or by legal adoption.

    However the law already has to deal with issues of more than two parents. What are the statuses of the woman who bore the child, the woman who donated the egg, and the man who provided the sperm? Of a sperm donor to a heterosexual couple. Even biologically it is theoretically possible for a woman to have two eggs fertilized by different men and then have the eggs merge and eventually produce a child (chimerism). Are both men the father and so the child has three biological parents?

  • It is always amusing when the religious wingnuts start clutching their pearls over “polygamous relationships” while still telling us that the Bible is “The Word of God” that should be enshrined in our civil law, Not only Solomon but Abraham, Jacob and God’s supposed favorite, David, were all polygamists but we are supposed to faint at the possibility?

    Not, of course, that this is situation is remotely polygamous. The law routinely deals with multiple “parents” in paternity matters: step-parents, surrogate parents, sperm/egg doners, etc.

    There is one and only one reason that Staver is up in arms … “Da Gayzs” are now starting to get treated like every other person, as our Constitution requires, which, though handed by Jesus to Washington, somehow never applies to anyone the talibangelicals disapprove of.

  • paulg

    His argument is pure stupidity, this has nothing to do with polygamy. But I don’t think he’s wrong to dislike this situation (I have different reasons than he does, though). That baby is being born into a two-woman household, they are the parents. The “father” is just sperm. Even if he’s a friend and will still perhaps be in the child’s life, he is not her parent and diminishes the meaning of the word in this planned situation. This sort of shit does validate wingnuts’ arguments that gays don’t value families, which is by and large not true. The family is the two women who are raising the child, they should be on the certificate. If they wanted it to be biologically relevant, the non-egg donating woman should just be left off the certificate.

  • @paulg: You’re saying this based on what? The mothers wanted him listed that way and he apparently plans to act as a father. Why shouldn’t he be allowed to be a father if that’s part of the planned situation?

  • paulg

    No, he’s not going to act as a father. A father-figure maybe, like an uncle. Or are they living together and Staver is right and this is like polygamy without the paperwork? I doubt it, the guy’s not going to be a father.

    They’re creating a family where the parents start out ‘not in love’, and mommy needs to be with someone else who she does love, and she’s really the other parent, but daddy’s still in the picture. Step families occur out of necessity, creating the situation intentionally is horrendous in my opinion. I recognize that I don’t know these people, and my reaction may be knee-jerk, but I see gay equality as the ability to form a family with the person we love, and raise children with them. This is undermining that. I suppose you could say that I’m taking a conservative stance on this issue, and the label would bug me, but I can live with it. Family is important, and biology is not.

  • paulg

    Also, I don’t understand gays who want to undergo in vitro fertilization at all, because it of course always involves a donor. Why go out of your way to create a child with only one spouse’s genes mixed with a stranger’s (or non-stranger’s). Why not adopt a child who already exists and is in desperate need of parents? A biological connection obviously isn’t vital if you can stand to be the unused spouse. And parentage then wouldn’t be confusing at all. The bio parents are out of the picture. The real parents are both equally unrelated and the family tied together by love.

  • Matrim


    I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that homosexuals have a special responsibility to adopt. Just because you don’t see a reason why couples should use in vitro or surrogacy means precisely dick to what the families in question feel.

    Additionally, your comments that the male in this situation will not be a father is entirely baseless. If he behaves as a father, is acknowledged as a father, and is one the frigging birth certificate as a father; who are you to assert he isn’t? A person’s marriage arrangements have no bearing on whether or not they are a parent.

  • paulg

    @Matrim: No special responsibility, I feel that straight couples should use in vitro if it will help with fertility problems, but if a donor needs to be involved then adoption is the better option. And I’m stating my feelings about ought, not must, of course. My opinion may mean dick to actual families, but obviously one spouse is fine with having a non-biological child. Are we just assuming the other one isn’t? In that case I’d say they’re irrational. Or is the act of creating life what’s important? (To me that’s just kind of creepy).

    But back to this specific case: what the fuck kind of relationship is it that these people are having, then? Is it going to be joint custody? Or is it as I’m imagining, that the child is going to be raised by the two goddamn women, and the male is going to be father in name only? We have very different views on what being a father means.

  • @paulg: So parents only count if they live with their kids full time? Why are you speculating about shit it would take three seconds to Google?

    Basically, he wanted to get visitation rights. The ruling leaves him in the same situation as a divorced friend of mine. If he not a real father either?

  • Matrim


    And I would argue that a “desire to create life” is no better or worse a reason to actually produce a child than “because I want a genetic connection.” Yet I don’t hear you calling out couples able to reproduce with eachother without assistance. The ease or difficulty of the process has little bearing on whether or not it’s acceptable.

    As for the other matter, you seem to have some sort of inability to recognize that more than two people can raise a child. If you can’t even acknowledge that simple fact I don’t see much point in debating the issue.

  • paulg

    You’re right, I should have googled that. And you didn’t think that article made my point more clearly? The “FAMILY” is the women and the baby. The sperm donor had a change of heart, again which wouldn’t be an issue if they’d just adopted.

    “We believe the best interest for Emma is for him to have a role in her life, but not as a parent.” In other words, the fucker wouldn’t leave well enough alone, and they compromised.

    Your divorced friend was with the mother, had a child together, and the relationship didn’t work out. He’s still definitely the parent.

  • Rip Steakface

    Paulg, through a very long story, I have three parents, all straight, and two fathers, all of whom I know and interact with regularly. Should my non-biological dad have just “left well enough alone,” despite him now being the one paying for things like a trip to Poland and college?

    Quit complaining and let people organize their family units as they desire.

  • paulg

    Ace’s link pretty much spells out their “desires” in the form of a legal battle. Maybe it’s just as simple as the women made a mistake by not going through an anonymous agency.

    My views stem from this: two people who don’t love each other shouldn’t have children together, and when it happens or they fall out of love then loving step-parents and adoptive parents are awesome! I don’t know if you’re just being antagonistic for the hell of it, but I’ve never said I was against extended families like that. jesus. Obviously these two women intended to be the child’s parents, but couldn’t do it alone. They made a mistake not going through an agency.

    I mean come on, it’s not even a polyamorous relationship, in which case I definitely may have had to rethink some things.

  • Ichthyic

    This sort of shit does validate wingnuts’ arguments that gays don’t value families, which is by and large not true.

    no Paul, it’s exactly the opposite. I have friends in CA that did exactly the same thing, and the idea was to be INCLUSIVE of the father as truly being part of the family, even if not part of the immediate parental relationship.

    IOW, it was valuing family even MORE.

  • Ichthyic

    My views stem from this: two people who don’t love each other shouldn’t have children together

    that’s nice Paul, but irrelevant, and little more than a specific opinion of yours that has no more value than Staver’s.

  • paulg

    Huh. Well, @19 you’ve pegged it, I suppose. Since I seem to be the only one with an issue, I’ll leave off. I’m fucking baffled though.

  • dingojack

    Paul – have you considered the situation 100 years in the future?

    One female parent is on the certificate because she’s the biological parent

    One female parent is on the certificate because she’s the de jure parent

    One male parent is on the certificate because of genealogical reasons.

    Now each line can be traced.

    With increased adoptions, sperm donors and so on it will become a genealogical nightmare to trace your ancestors further back than the early 21st century.



    PS I have friends who have used a sperm bank to have children. Why? Because they didn’t want to be forced into a relationship with someone they weren’t even vaguely interested in just so that they could have a family.

  • =8)-DX

    I’m completely baffled at what paulg’s actual argument is. Having experienced divorce, dicey parenting arrangements, having a daughter with a second father, extra grandparents and a new sister,what seems most relevant to me is:

    If all parties involved act as sane and rational adults who can sit down and sort out their differences/ make arrangements for the benefit of the child, I don’t see this specific or any similar arrangement as problematic.

    In other words, the fucker wouldn’t leave well enough alone, and they compromised.

    Basically what you’re saying is that if the donor-father acts like an asshole and makes problems for the family (instead of being a supportive and included part of it, as is obviously the intention of everyone), then the child will be the one to suffer. Yes, but that’s true of either of the mothers here, that’s true of every parenting situation. Shit, even grandparents can and often do make the family lives of thier grandchildren a living hell. Great that you manage to demean and belittle a male sperm donor who has agreed to and wants to support his biological offspring and family as a “fucker”.

    Even if he’s a friend and will still perhaps be in the child’s life, he is not her parent and diminishes the meaning of the word in this planned situation.

    This sounds to me a lot like the word games played by the conservative right. How is “diminishing the meaning of the word parent” going to change any actual existing family? Are fathers and mothers going to suddenly start thinking “omg, parent no longer means anything!” and ditch their kids? Aside from that, what paulg says sounds very much like the idea that adding an extra point of failure to a family unit is not a good idea, but logically that would make single-parent families the most stable, acceptable? No, I don’t think you can make this argument at all. I think we should be accepting of diverse family structures (that will exist anyway – mother-grandmother duos taking over most of the parenting with fathers whose work takes them far from home) and point to what really harms kids – parents shirking their responsibilities for selfish reasons, dumping the fallout of thier own personal/relationship/life issues on the heads of their offspring.

  • paulg

    Notice that I only demeaned the man after I figured out that he was an unwanted addendum to the family. Calling him a “father-figure” I don’t think was demeaning, only diminishing, which I think is correct in this situation. The fact that I’m only getting pushback, and from people who think I’m prejudiced against step-families says that I haven’t made my case clearly (or just sound like a prick and it’s not worth getting into).

    First, my parents are instrumental in the raising of my nephew, who has two working unmarried parents. Should they have been put on the certificate? It takes a village, let’s put the village on the certificate. I’m very accepting of non-traditional family settings, as I’ve stated before, lots. I still think my reasoning is valid here, and it turns out especially here. I’ll try again.

    It was obvious to me from the get-go that the two women intended to be the child’s parents. If a single lesbian had had a kid with a gay guy, I’d think it was really weird but wouldn’t have nearly the reaction I did. The birth certificate would be labeling the biological parents, the kid would be raised by the lesbian and that would be that, whether the guy was involved or not. The fact that a couple is involved is what got my reaction, and it turns out I was right (please at least someone for pete’s sake admit that, and that your problems are with my perceived judgmentalness. Because if you think the donor is right in this…). I think the only reason that this situation occurred at all is that the women are gay. A straight couple who needed a sperm donor wouldn’t even think about having the donor on the birth certificate. The only reason I think it was allowed is because they were two women and the donor was a male, so it somehow made sense, because the two women are obviously not traditional parents. Why treat them as such?

    I saw it as a direct assault on same-sex families, and even though my reaction was only theoretically ideological, the real situation has me madder. No, the biological father doesn’t mean anything except as a medical history. Him being a bad influence on the baby isn’t even an argument, because he shouldn’t be in the picture! The baby has two parents, and the fact that they’re both women doesn’t mean anything.

    Another example, this time assuming everyone knows each other and everyone’s fantastic. Let’s say a straight couple has a kid, and Aunt Jackie (unrelated) is rooming with the couple and instrumental in the baby’s life (she’s a wonderful role-model, baby-sits all the time, maybe spends more time with the kid than the parents do, let’s say they work a lot). Would the idea of calling her a parent even come up? Calling her family, I’d say yes. But she’s obviously not the parent.

    The only reason the donor has a case is because of biology, which I think only a conservative would say means anything, and it turns out the women didn’t even want him to be part of the family (as I said before, their mistake).

    And Dingo, that’s the only valid point I can see in this situation. He’s a medical/ancestral history. He did a nice thing for the couple, knew exactly what he was doing. I stand by the fact that he’s a fucker who wouldn’t leave well enough alone.