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Thursday, October 28, 1999 Published at 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK


Controversy over gay dads

The gay couple with their childrens' Californian mother-to-be

There has been mixed reaction to news that a gay couple will be named as legal parents on the birth certificate of their as-yet unborn surrogate twins.

A Los Angeles court made legal history with the ruling sought by millionaire businessmen Barry Drewitt, 30, and Tony Barlow, 35, from Chelmsford which means they can both be 'official parents'.

The children are due to be born to surrogate mother Rosalind Bellamy, 32, in the United States in December.

But the couple's actions have been described as another example of 'designing children for the benefit of adults'.

'Eggs on the internet'

Speaking to the BBC, the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Tom Butler, said the pregnancy was another example of the development of the "designer child".

He said: "On Monday it was maternal eggs on the internet. Today, it's children produced by very skilful means but still, in a sense, adults designing children for the benefits of adults

"We are producing a generation of children mixed up and insecure, not because they want for anything in a material sense, but because they are totally confused about their identity, because family life is in turmoil.

"It worries me that we continue to experiment with different forms of family life where at the end of the day it is the children who are the casualties, not the adults."

'Nuclear family evolving'

The couple, who have been together for 11 years, have spent £200,000 arranging the surrogate birth after an application to adopt a child in Britain was rejected.

Ms Bellamy had the embryos of another woman and the sperm of one of the men placed in her uterus.

The landmark ruling means the original birth certificates, which are legally binding in the UK, can bear the names of both men - including the non-biological parent.

Mr Drewitt had said he was delighted at the news and added: "We are celebrating a legal victory. The nuclear family as we know it is evolving.

"The emphasis should not be on it being a father and a mother, but on loving, nurturing parents, whether that be a single mother or a gay couple living in a committed relationship."

And the decision was also welcomed by the lesbian and gay lobbying group, Stonewall, which hopes courts in the UK will now be encouraged to take the same approach.

Mark Watson, of Stonewall, said: "It must be best for the child if two people who are bringing up and involved in the parenting of that child, both have legal responsibility for that child."

Essex Social Services, which turned the men down for adoption, refused to comment on the matter.

'Lots of love'

The mother of one of the fathers, Veronica Drewitt, defended her son's actions and said the children would want for nothing.

"All the family is very happy for Barry and Tony," she told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Most of the family is going over to bring the children back and Barry and Tony are just so excited."

Asked what the children would be told when they were old enough to wonder why they did not have a mother, she said: "We will just explain to them.

"There are people in England now that have only got one parent. With two fathers they are going to want for nothing."

She added: "There is lots and lots of love."

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