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Gov. Brown vetoes bill that would have allowed legal recognition for more than 2 parents

Gov. Jerry Brown signing bills on Wednesday, June 27, 2012.
Gov. Jerry Brown signing bills on Wednesday, June 27, 2012.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP

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Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Sunday that would have allowed more than two people to be recognized as legal parents for a child.

California state law recognizes just two parents for each child. Senate Bill 1476, authored by Bay Area state Sen. Mark Leno, would have removed that cap and allowed courts, under limited circumstances, to find that a child has more than two legal parents (such as both foster and biological parents) if it would serve the best interest of the child. It would have allowed multiple parents to share custody, financial support and visitation rights.

“I am sympathetic to the author’s interest in protecting children,” Brown wrote in his veto signing statement. “But I am troubled by the fact that some family law specialists believe the bill’s ambiguities may have unintended consequences. I would like to take more time to consider all of the implications of this change.”

Critics had said that the change could confuse children, with others saying it would be a backdoor opening to provide legal legitimacy for same-sex marriage.

Leno said he wanted the changes to protect children, after he heard about a recent case where a child with two mothers ended up in foster care. One mom was sent to prison, the second was hospitalized for illness. The state wouldn’t give the child’s biological father custody.

Gov. Brown has until midnight Sunday night to sign or veto dozens of other bills.

SB 1476 Veto Message