Newsom’s Political Dissimulation

The California governor knows what sells in San Francisco won’t sell in St. Louis

In a surprise development, nominal Catholic California Governor Gavin Newsom recently vetoed legislation that instructed California courts to take a parent’s “gender affirming” views into account when making custody or visitation decisions.

No one should think, however, that the Governor has concluded that the chemical castration and/or physical genital mutilation of minors, preventing them from ever becoming parents, is a bad thing. The Governor’s veto message [see here] doesn’t question any of that.

Newsom vetoed the bill, he claims, because he didn’t want the legislative and executive branches dictating that “single… characteristic” to the judicial branch because it might cause a backlash, inspiring “other-minded elected officials in California and other states” to prohibit using that “single characteristic” in court proceedings in their states. There was already pushback when Democrat Elizabeth Guzman introduced legislation to that end in Virginia’s House of Delegates but, with Republican control of the lower chamber and Glenn Youngkin in the governor’s mansion, such a bill had no hope. California had pushed the legislation through the entire legislative process.

Don’t fret—Newsom assures his Legislature—California law already expects state courts to make these sorts of decisions in the “best interests of the child,” which we know—wink-wink, nod-nod—includes “the parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity.”

In other words, it’s a good idea whose time has not yet come because others just might see how we want to array the power of the state against parents who think their kids should be able someday to be parents, too. It might set off alarm bells in other states to foreclose state bureaucrats from issuing regulations to redefine the “best interests of a child” to include the child’s castration or genital mutilation. This can all be accomplished with far less hoopla. Let’s just wait for the rest of America to “evolve.”

And, of course, in case change is needed at the top of the 2024 Democratic presidential ticket, does Gavin Newsom really want to explain to “flyover country” why he signed a law saying parents who don’t “affirm” their child’s castration or mutilation are less fit or less entitled to custody or visitation access?

No one should be fooled by this feint. A child’s fertility is not bad, not “diseased,” not something to be destroyed; all things until very recently everyone would have instinctively conceded. Radicals in the California legislature, who may still attempt an override, nevertheless want to force their vision of “good parents” down the throats of the state’s residents. Newsom knows what sells in San Francisco won’t sell in St. Louis or St. Bonaventure. Parents interested in clawing back their rights from an overreaching state shouldn’t be deceived by Newsom’s action.


John M. Grondelski (Ph.D., Fordham) was former associate dean of the School of Theology, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey. All views expressed herein are exclusively his.

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