If you have been listening to the news at all recently, you know all too well that the Justices of the Supreme Court recently heard arguments for and against same sex marriage. While some of the arguments from opponents have been reasonable and well-founded, there are a few that push the limits of sense, intelligence and fact. This article is a cursory review of some of these proceedings.
“The purpose of marriage is procreation. Gay couples should not get married, because they cannot have children.” I take issue with this statement, because if this were true, not only would gay couples not marry, but scores of straight couples would not get married. I would not be married today if this preposterous claim were fact. My wife and I are both in our second marriage, and we had no illusions about having children when we married almost 14 years ago. We married because we loved each other! There is someone in my extended family who had a hysterectomy in her 20s. She has special needs, and chose this surgery because of her disabilities. Motherhood would have been extremely difficult and a daily challenge for her, given her physical limitations. This argument thus would prevent her from getting married. Why should that happiness be denied her simply because she cannot bear children?
Ruth Bader Ginsberg proposed in the Supreme Court hearings that a 70-year-old couple cannot procreate, and would these people then prohibit this couple from marrying? The attorney who was arguing this line of nonsense, John Bursch, actually suggested that this 70-year-old man certainly could produce children. While this is likely physically true, my question is this: Is he suggesting that this elderly gentleman impregnate a woman of child-bearing years, rather than marry and live with the woman he loves—the 70-year-old woman? Supreme Nonsense!
“This definition [of marriage as being one man-one woman] has been with us for millennia. And it’s very difficult for the court to say, ‘Oh, well, we know better.’“ These words were uttered by none other than Justice Anthony Kennedy. Yes, the reality of marriage as being a heterosexual privilege only has been the norm for thousands of years. But looking beyond the genders involved in marriage, we see that the woman has been a party to the marriage only in terms of property being exchanged. The quality of marriage has not been examined, only the genders involved. And just because same sex marriage is a relatively new concept (compared with the history of humanity), this does not mean that we should wait another hundred years or more before we accept that it is the right thing to do!
“This case isn’t about how to define marriage. It’s about who gets to decide that question. Is it the people acting through the democratic process, or is it the federal courts? And we’re asking you to affirm every individual’s fundamental liberty interest in deciding the meaning of marriage.” Attorney John Bursch again spins the argument out of orbit. Of course this case is about defining marriage. “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” as the benign mantra goes. But even invoking the Biblical “definition” of marriage holds little credibility. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Solomon is quite respected in the Biblical account. David had multiple wives. Jacob married two sisters. To claim that the Biblical “definition” of marriage is one man-one woman is short-sighted and inaccurate.
The second point in Bursch’s comment above: do the states or the federal court decide this question? It is interesting that any time the right-wing folks want federal oversight and intrusion into people’s lives, there is no hesitation in asking the Supreme Court to rule. On those issues where they fear a ruling of the Court to go against their position, they invoke states’ rights. Of course the Supreme Court needs to make rulings that affect the whole American citizenry. And they have done so consistently for decades, good and bad, right or wrong.
“Natural marriage is something that has been clearly defined over the years. What’s really at stake here is the American family. Marriage is essential to the American family and every single child deserves a mother and a father.” These words were spoken by that bastion of right-wing, conservative religion, Josh Duggar. Famous for having parents who took seriously God’s call (in Genesis) to “be fruitful and multiply,” Duggar was addressing a National Organization for Marriage event days before the Supreme Court hearings. Does same sex marriage cheapen or threaten straight marriage? “Nay,” I say! Straight marriage has already been cheapened by those who marry for convenience, entertainment, or celebrity.Headlines include: “Barry Gesser—one of the wolves of Wall Street—had his marriage to actress Stacey Alysson end after lasting just 15 days when his bride found him with socialite Dori Cooperman.” And then this news: “Alexandra Edenborough, 36, cited ‘irreconcilable differences’ as the reason for [her] split [from Gary Oldman].” In February 2014, Oldman, 56, told The Independent, “I’m not proud that this is my fourth marriage. But this is a good one. Hopefully, my last one.” The Dark Knight star was previously married to Lesley Manville, with whom he has one child, from 1987 to 1990, Uma Thurman from 1990 to 1992, and Donya Fiorentino from 1997 to 2001. And someone tells me that same sex marriage will cheapen the institution of marriage?
The other point that Duggar was attempting to make is that all children deserve a mother and father. To that I reply that every child deserves two parents who love them, regardless of gender. There are more same sex couples who are adopting children. Not only are those children growing up in a loving home, they are well-adjusted and very normal kids!
I could spend a few more paragraphs (pages?) on this diatribe. It is all Supreme Nonsense! I close with a quote from Justice Kagan. “Near the conclusion of the first argument, Justice Kagan indicated that she hoped the Supreme Court would find a right to same-sex marriage. She said the court has a role in protecting minorities even when majorities made their views known at the polls. ‘We don’t live in a pure democracy,’ she said. ‘We live in a constitutional democracy.’” Let’s hope for some Supreme Sense coming from the Bench at the end of June!