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Ontario Court's perilous decision recognizes three Parents

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For Immediate Release from the CHRISTIAN LEGAL FELLOWSHIP (CLF)

January 3, 2007

In a unanimous judgment written by Justice Marc Rosenberg on behalf of Chief Justice Roy McMurtry and Justice Jean-Marc Labrosse, the Ontario Court of Appeal chose to exercise it's parens patriae jurisdiction to "fill a legislative gap" and extend a child's parentage to three individuals -- the biological mother and father as well as the mother's lesbian partner.  This court has now recognized a "three-parent family" and opened the way to introduce many legal variations of the family unit.

Ruth Ross, Executive Director of Christian Legal Fellowship, a member of the intervenor Alliance for Family & Marriage, states, "There remain outstanding questions as to whether a family comprised of three legal parents is in the best interests of the child. The full implications of this major, precedent-setting change have not been thoroughly examined.  Historically, policy decisions have been left to legislators who are charged with this responsibility."

This decision has international significance as it takes the lead into unstable territory most other countries have not ventured into -- redefining the family as we know it to include three parents.

While the court exercised its discretion in this case, other jurisdictions, such as France, chose to investigate thoroughly the social science data through its legislative arm, and found one mother and one father to be in the best interests of children. 

There is no doubt that this decision will cause a whole new vista of legal issues and many new court actions as it impacts parental rights and obligations particularly in marriage breakdowns or situations where one or more members of three parent families part company. Deciding what is in the best interests of the child in those circumstances will prove extremely complex, costly and potentially chaotic.

What will prevent this ruling from having similar application to heterosexual marriges upon breakdown and subsequent remarriage? Can one or two step-parents now apply for legal status as a parent and ultimately lead to four or even six parents being recognized by the courts as having say over the child's upbringing?  Will the third or fourth or fifth or sixth parent be afforded equal say?  What about the child?  What say will he/she have in terms of which parent or sets of parents they choose to live with?

The court asserted that present social conditions and attitudes have changed, however, a societal shift of this magnitude may not be as clear as the courts would have us believe. This judgment warrants action from provincial and federal governments to examine the social data and investigate the potential fallout for families to allow the broadest protection for children.

Click here to view background information and written legal arguments for The Alliance for Marriage and Family (comprised of Christian Legal Fellowship, Focus on the Family, Catholic Civil Rights League, REAL Women of Canada and Evangelical Fellowship of Canada).

Click here to view the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal handed down on January 2, 2007.

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Elizabeth Davis, J.D.

Director of Communications

on behalf of

Ruth A.M. Ross, B.A., LL.B.
Executive Director


l’Alliance des chrétiens en droit

Phone: (519) 641-8850  Fax:  (519) 641-8866

The Christian Legal Fellowship is a national not-for-profit association of legal professionals in Canada. The association, among other functions, explores the complex interrelationships between the practice and theory of law and Christian faith. The Fellowship has some 490 active members from several dozen Christian denominations working together to integrate Christian faith with law. 


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