Monday, February 12, 1996
Bill would ask men to register after they romp

The Cincinnati Enquirer

State representative Kelsey Friend Jr. wants his fellow Kentuckians to have sex on a registered basis.

Virile men in the state are to pay $25 and fill out forms at the county courthouse every time they think they fathered a child out of wedlock the night before.

The catch - and stay with me on this one - is that failure to register would mean a man relinquishes his rights as a parent should a child be born and put up for adoption.

''We have 13,000 births per year in Kentucky that involve children born out of wedlock,'' Mr. Friend explains by phone from his statehouse office in Frankfort. His voice, deep, calm and all-knowing like a country preacher's, takes on a touch of sadness as he repeats the figure: ''13,000.''

Not wanting to be one of those smart-aleck journalists who make sport of homespun politicians from Kentucky - some reporters did that to a guy named Lincoln once and ended up looking stupid instead of smart - I can't help but think in the back of my mind: 13,000 x $25.

That's $325,000 a year. Mr. Friend may be on to something for states rich in testosterone but poor in economic base.

But, morality, not money, is his motive.

Mr. Friend says the bill grew out of his anguish over Baby Richard and Baby Jessica. Those were the adopted children awarded to biological parents who sought their return through the courts.

''Those situations came along,'' he says, ''and made my heart burn.''

Children born out of wedlock are vulnerable to this wrenching experience, Mr. Friend reasons. ''That's the sad truth of this scenario. Many of these children are put up for adoption. They should not be left out there on what I call a rental basis. Something must be done.''

''Something'' is his bill: ''An act relating to the termination of parental rights in adoption proceedings.'' It was passed without debate by the Kentucky House and sent to the Senate.

Mr. Friend knows his approach is unusual. He admits it does not directly address a biological mother's rights. He's just after the one-night-stand daddies.

''The idea of a father registering after he has had sex with a woman is certainly novel,'' he says in an accent - thick with the tones, twang and drawl of Eastern Kentucky - that could charm the wings off a fly.

''I guess it is even absurd,'' he adds, ''if you want to think about it from a pure standard that has come along for years.''

And, what might that standard be?

''Well, basically,'' he says, ''that men are expected to hit and run, as the old saying goes.''

Mr. Friend wants to hit them where it hurts - in the wallet - so they won't run . . . too far. He wants them to pay $25 per encounter and answer some questions on an official form.

What's a guy fessing up to?

The form asks a potential father-to-be to report the following ''about the woman with whom he had intercourse:'' Full maiden name. Full married name (if applicable). Date and place of birth. Social Security number.

Picture the action at those bars on the Kentucky waterfront if this bill becomes law. Instead of asking for a woman's sign, lounge lizards will slither up and say, ''Hey good-looking, I'm 243-95-1357. What's your Social Security number?''

The Friend bill's form also wants to know ''the location at which the intercourse took place, by state, city and county'' and ''the date on which the intercourse took place.''

At least the form doesn't ask how many times anyone said, ''Baby, oh baby.''

The form's invasion of privacy angle seems to have escaped Mr. Friend. He doesn't see this as big government poking its nose through the bedroom curtains.

''To look after a child,'' he solemnly intones, ''does not seem to be absurd.''

But to sponsor a bill like this does.

Utah - a state with 6,000 illegitimate births a year - already has a have-sex, will-register law. It's been in effect since May 1995.

How many men have registered?


So much for guys putting in writing what big fun they had on Saturday night.

Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Available to speak to groups. Tips and comments most welcome. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.