Dan Goldberg’s rights

The right to parenthood should be self-evident.

May 12, 2010 23:03
3 minute read.
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gay flag 298 ap. (photo credit: AP)


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Dan Goldberg’s plight should tug hard at the heartstrings of anyone – male or female, straight or gay – who ever wanted to be a parent. The injustice caused him may have been triggered by his sexual orientation; the sympathy and support he deserves should have nothing to do with his homosexuality.

The right to parenthood should be self-evident, regardless of one’s inclinations or lifestyle. Goldberg’s desire to father his own biological children shouldn’t be predicated on anyone’s say-so. It certainly shouldn’t be obstructed by questionable, arbitrary rulings.

Yet this is precisely what has happened to Goldberg. He fathered twins – a boy and a girl – by a surrogate mother in India. Family Court Judge Philip Marcus, however, refused to approve a paternity test to confirm that Goldberg is Itai’s and Liron’s father, which is required before the babies can be admitted to Israel and be naturalized as citizens.

The reason for the decision is the fact that Goldberg is gay.

Marcus asserted that “a child needs to grow up with two parents, not only biologically, but also developmentally…” He further alluded to the danger that the father may be “a pedophile or a serial killer. These are things the state needs to check.”

Really? Are checks mandated to establish whether all prospective biological parents have no criminal tendencies? Can heterosexual parents not be equally suspected of abusive or homicidal proclivities? Aren’t conjugal visits allowed even the most heinous imprisoned felons (even murderers and terrorists)?

Moreover, these concerns are totally out of the court’s scope. Goldberg wasn’t applying to adopt, a situation in which the suitability of any potential parents (regardless of sexual orientation) must be ascertained before turning a vulnerable child to their care. The children in question are Goldberg’s own flesh and blood.

Israel is a country in which immigration visas are granted even to non-Jewish grandchildren of a Jewish grandparent and to the grandchildren’s own non-Jewish offspring, all on the strength of a tenuous genealogical tie. Can it then be that the entry to Israel of children born to a Jerusalemite would be impeded?

Israelis, furthermore, lobby and demonstrate on behalf of children of illegal economic migrants, who may be subject (along with their families) to deportation. Can it be that those children would be considered as possessing residential rights here, but not so the children of a bona-fide Israeli, who has led an honorable and productive life and even distinguished himself in military service in a combat unit? Would it truly be better for Israel if these babies were barred because someone may have issues with their father’s sexuality?

Prejudicial treatment resulted in Goldberg being stranded for two months in a Mumbai hotel, with limited finances and an expiring visa, no amenities to care for newborns, no medical facilities, no vaccinations and even no food. Baby formula was shipped out to him from Israel.

Goldberg did not deserve such torment. The babies most certainly did not.

ANYONE IS free to personally evaluate this case from a religious perspective. But a state court must be guided by nothing but the law and sound legal precedents. Equality under the law means that when a case is adjudicated involving identical or similar material facts as previous cases, then similar determination should be expected. It’s at this point that precedents become touchstones for judicial impartiality.

The fact is that many childless couples and single Israelis (including gays) have turned to Indian surrogate mothers, just as Goldberg did, and brought their babies home without trouble. Goldberg had every expectation to be treated likewise. The fact that he is being singled out is untenable.

The very notion that a man with a spotless record would be suspected without cause of pedophile perversion and worse must outrage any unbiased Israeli. Besides this constituting court-sanctioned homophobia, this represents a violation of the basic rights of an Israeli whose only “crime” is the wish to raise his own children.

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