A man and woman file for divorce in Arizona. They have a child, and then two more. Custody of their children becomes a disputed issue. They ask the judge to decide. But the judge refuses. He claims the court does not have jurisdiction. Why? Because Arizona law states that a marriage is only valid if it is between a man and a woman. Same sex marriages are forbidden.
But hold on . . . we're not talking about a same-sex marriage. The parties obtained an official marriage license based on the fact that one spouse was a man and the other was a woman. And they went on to conceive and give birth to three children.
This is where the story takes an unexpected turn.
The wife, as it turns out, did not give birth to the children. The husband did. Thomas Beatie, the husband, was born a female. Throughout his life, he always felt that he was a man trapped in a female body – even when he entered beauty pageants and worked as a model. In 2002, Mr. Beatie underwent male hormone therapy and had his upper body reconstructed. He married a year later. When his wife was unable to conceive a child, her husband was the logical choice. He still had his female reproductive organs. So, with the help of a fertility doctor, Mr. Beatie became pregnant and gave birth to three children.
Now the couple has filed for divorce. However, a Superior Court judge has concluded that the Arizona court does not have jurisdiction of the matter. He reasons that the father (Mr. Beatie) is the biological mother of the children. Thus, the marriage is not between a man and a woman and it is, therefore, invalid under Arizona law.
We no longer live in the world of our grandparents. This is the 21st century. We have become a more tolerant and enlightened society. Science has made things possible that our ancestors could never have dreamed. And the law has to grow and transform in order to keep pace with advances in technology, medical ethics, and human understanding.
Change is coming, and it is coming fast. We must be prepared to meet the challenges that the future throws at us, in order to make this world a better place.