11 Sep 2012 Utah’s ‘Normal’ Narrowly Defined
As demonstrated by the state legislature’s commendable move to protect all parties in surrogacy arrangements by passing AB 1217, California non-traditional families are lucky. In contrast, in Salt Lake City, Utah, The New Normal, a new television sitcom about a gay male couple who are becoming dads via surrogacy, is not even being allowed to air. Lindsey Abrams writes in The Atlantic:
Also not seen in Utah: same-sex couples pursuing a surrogacy in real life.
Utah's strict surrogacy laws only permit married couples to hire a surrogate. As gay marriage is outlawed in the state, these laws effectively prohibit the type of family represented in the TV show.
As Abrams reports, until 2005, married couples in Utah seeking to become parents through surrogacy had no legal rights, and paying a surrogate for her services was a crime. But even today, surrogacy is strictly regulated in Utah; only married, heterosexual couples are allowed to become parents via surrogacy, and only under certain conditions:
Only gestational surrogacy is permitted, and at least one of the intended parents must donate their genetic material and therefore be biologically related to the child. In addition, the intended mother must prove that she is unable to carry the child herself [emphasis ours].
In some states, even where surrogacy is legal, the state treats intended parents almost as they would treat potential adoptive parents, requiring a home visit and vetting of the intended parents—even in cases when the intended parents are the biological parents of the child to be born via surrogacy.
As the Abrams article goes on to say, Utah law not only prohibits gay or lesbian couples from becoming parents via surrogacy, they are not allowed to adopt children either.
So when the CEO of [NBC affiliate station] KSL's parent company justified the decision not to air the show by explaining that it contained inappropriate content for family viewing time, he was perfectly in line with the state's definition of family values. According to the estimates of its residents, the state is on its way to being the best place in the U.S. to live.
Maybe so… but for whom? Apparently, in Utah, if your family doesn’t fit the “man, woman, child” mold, you’re not, well, “normal.”