EDITORIAL: 'Lost Boys' sperm donor asks lawmakers to overrule judge

July 26, 2013 

Jason Patric, who gained fame for his starring role in the 1980s vampire flick "Lost Boys," has re-emerged, this time on Katie Couric's television show, in People magazine and in legislation that seeks to define the rights of sperm donors.

It's all soap operatic, and not the sort of issue that the Legislature should try to resolve, at least not yet.

Patric donated sperm to Danielle Schreiber, a woman with whom he had an on-again, off-again relationship. At some point, Schreiber and Patric rekindled their relationship, the relationship hit the rocks, and he sued to gain shared custody of the boy, who is 3.

In this he-said, she-said story, this is known: A Superior Court judge in Los Angeles ruled against Patric and upheld Schreiber's sole custody rights. Patric's lawyer is appealing to the state Court of Appeal.

Even before the lawyers submitted their appellate briefs, Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, introduced Senate Bill 115, which zipped out of the Senate and awaits a vote in the Assembly. That's where it should remain.

The right to petition government is fundamental. But legislators should know better than to step into disputes that are pending in court. The case involves a minor, so the trial court record is sealed, including the judge's ruling. As a result, the legislation is based on supposition about what may or may not be real.

A leading opponent is Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat who is gay and fears lesbian couples could lose parental rights. Some women's rights groups also have come out against the measure, concerned that mothers could lose rights to sperm donors who pass through their lives.

Hill's legislation would permit sperm donors to sue for parental rights "at any time." A donor would have standing to claim parental rights if he "receives the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his natural child."

Perhaps Hill has hit upon a loophole in the law that needs fixing. However, his bill warrants far more study than the Legislature has given it so far.

Sperm donors who give up their parental rights should not be able to come back into a child's life, simply because they change their minds, at any time.

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