February 11, 2009
Contact: Martin Cothran
LEXINGTON--A state family group is opposing a proposed state law that it says would weaken the legal status of marriage. The bill, House Bill 28, would allow the father of child born from an adulterous relationship with a married woman to claim parental rights to the child even after the woman had reconciled with her husband. The bill would effectively overturn the Rhoades v. Rickett's decision in which the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled last year that the marriage prevailed over the biological father's claim.
"At a time when we need to be strengthening the legal status of marriage, this bill weakens it," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky. "A marriage does not automatically end when one party to the marriage commits adultery, but that would be the legal effect of this bill."
Proponents of the bill argue that the mere fact that a man is the biological father of a child is sufficient to warrant parental rights, but Cothran argued that this has never been the case. "If you take this argument to its logical conclusion, then the biological father of a child born through in vitro fertilization to a mother married to another man could gain parental rights. In fact, if biology trumps everything else, what stops a rapist from claiming parental rights?"
One of the purposes of marriage law is to protect the members of the marriage and the children of that marriage, Cothran said. "HB 28 may benefit the biological father, but it would not benefit the married couple or the child involved."