Two Mothers in Law and Fact

21 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2012 Last revised: 10 Oct 2014

See all articles by Robert Leckey

Robert Leckey

McGill University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 15, 2012


What is the proper balance between legislative and judicial innovation and between formal and functional family recognition once legislatures have recognized gay men’s and lesbians’ families? In the civil-law jurisdiction of Quebec, legislative reforms allow two women to register as a child’s mothers. But judges have recognized a second mother ‘in fact’ by orders sharing custody where the parties had not used the new legislative channels. Such judicial creativity is reconcilable with the civil law and comparative scholars should flag it as a valuable resource. But it risks undermining legislative choices about family recognition. Perhaps the option to give a child a second mother includes the choice for a lesbian birth mother not to do so. Once two women become thinkable as spouses and mothers, judges might inappropriately press a rich range of queer kinship possibilities into standard models.

Keywords: lesbian mothers, child custody, civil law, comparative law, functional family, feminist comparative law

JEL Classification: K1, K19, K30

Suggested Citation

Leckey, Robert, Two Mothers in Law and Fact (July 15, 2012). Feminist Legal Studies, 21, no. 1: 1-19 (2013), Available at SSRN: or

Robert Leckey (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec
514-398-4148 (Phone)
514-398-4659 (Fax)

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