New Inequalities


P1. To achieve marriage equality, same-sex marriage requires changes to existing laws

P2. These changes to existing laws create new parental inequalities

C. Therefore same-sex marriage creates new parental inequalities


In order to achieve marriage equality, same-sex marriage is usually immediately followed by changes to parenthood such as:

  • Redefining in law how many parents a child has – For example up to four parents in Canada can be recognized in law to be a parent of the child. 
  • Replacing the concept of a natural parent with a legal parent
  • Replacing in legal practices the words “Mother” and “Father” with the word “Parent” or the words “Parent 1” and “Parent 2”.
  • Not recording the biological mother and father on birth certificates but instead recording the intended parents “Progenitor A” and “Progenitor B”
  • The presumption of paternity, which assumes the mother’s spouse is the other parent
  • Treating some mothers and fathers unequally to other mothers and fathers

All these changes create inequalities between children with regards to their rights to know their mother and father.

Same-sex marriage also introduces new inequalities concerning the spouses such as:

  • The unequal concept of adultery – which is very different in the case of same-sex marriage
  • The unequal concept of consummating the wedding and the ability to annul the marriage

And finally the problem of consent to parenting as explained by Maggie Gallagher:

Unlike heterosexual couples, who are presumed to consent to co-parenting by having marital sex, spouses in same-sex marriages will be able to impose parental obligations on their spouse without any expression of consent on their part at all. Either that, or the “presumption of parentage” in the law will now be contestable, not because the spouse is not the biological parent, but because the spouse did not consent to the child. Can these new grounds for contesting parenthood be limited only to same-sex couples? Or will all men (thanks to the new presumption of parentage) have a new legal standing to reject the obligations of fatherhood on the grounds they only consented to sex and not to parenthood?