Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Responsible procreation"

This is the legal premise Greg Abbott (also known in various lawsuits as "the state of Texas") advances in the case against marriage equality.

In a brief filed with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, Texas attorney general and GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott argued that lifting the state’s ban on same-sex marriage would not encourage opposite-sex couples to procreate within wedlock, and therefore the ban should stay in place. Abbott reiterated the “responsible procreation” argument he has already made in defense of a same-sex marriage ban, saying that the motivation for denying marriage rights is economic, according to the Houston Chronicle.

“The State is not required to show that recognizing same-sex marriage will undermine heterosexual marriage,” the brief reads. “It is enough if one could rationally speculate that opposite-sex marriages will advance some state interest to a greater extent than same-sex marriages will.”

There's nothing new here.  Supporters of California's Prop 8 gave the postulate a test drive in 2013; Utah employed the argument as well.  What motivates a (supposed) small-government conservative to advance a state interest in procreation in the first fucking place, you might be asking yourself. 

The economic benefits to the state of people having children, it appears.

Texas, represented by Assistant Texas Solicitor General Mike Murphy, countered that the state has a legitimate interest in preserving the "traditional definition of marriage," calling the same-sex kind, which became law in Massachusetts in 2004, "a more recent innovation than Facebook."


"The purpose of Texas marriage law is not to discriminate against same-sex couples but to promote responsible procreation," Murphy said, according to The Dallas Morning News. Kids, he argued, fare better when they're raised by heterosexual couples.

That premise is false, as scientific data has revealed.

In a 2010 brief filed in a gay-marriage case in California, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy wrote that claims the straight people make better parents or that children of gay couples fare worse "find no support in the scientific research literature."

Indeed, the scientific research that has directly compared outcomes for children with gay and lesbian parents with outcomes for children with heterosexual parents has been consistent in showing that lesbian and gay parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents. Empirical research over the past two decades has failed to find any meaningful differences in the parenting ability of lesbian and gay parents compared to heterosexual parents.

As Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan asked, what about when two heterosexual people over the age of 55 get married?  What about infertile couples of any age?  And I would ask: what about the children produced by women of low socio-economic status who are being compelled to give birth because the state refuses to allow them to end their pregnancies?  Weren't conservatives calling those mothers and their children 'moochers' and 'freeloaders' just the other day?  That's certainly counter to a claim of "economic benefit".

The speciousness of these legal arguments defies common sense.  More from the Chronic from behind the paywall.

"By encouraging the formation of opposite-sex marriages, the State seeks not only to encourage procreation but also to minimize the societal cost that can result from procreation outside of stable, lasting marriages," Abbott's brief read. "Because same-sex relationships do not naturally produce children, recognizing same-sex marriage does not further these goals."
LGBT and pro-gay marriage activists were surprised Abbott led with the "responsible procreation" argument since it has been rejected in the 10th and 4th Circuit Courts.

"It hasn't succeeded very often because it doesn't make a whole lot of sense and it doesn't really comport with what most of us think about marriage," said Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. "(State law) doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be reasonable."

'Reasonable' and Greg Abbott shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath.

But these ridiculous, contorted legal justifications discriminating against people who love each other, wish to share their lives, and not be penalized by society, tax law, probate law, hospital visitation polices, and all the rest are actually not what concerns me most.

What is genuinely disconcerting is that Greg Abbott -- who had a tree fall on him and break his spine at the age of 26, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down -- has apparently been thinking about the sex other people have for a long time now.  And essentially he's reached the conclusion that the only people who should be allowed to have sex are straight married couples who desire children. (Let's overlook his ignorance of the reality of pre-marital and extra-marital sex, as well as recreational sex.  God only knows how wrong he must think masturbation is.  No economic benefit to the state there.  Likewise, Abbott is  probably only interested in the economic benefits of procreation by Caucasian and well-to-do Christian couples... but that's a digression.)

These are considerably more disturbing thoughts than anything I have read recently about wheelchairs and disabled people.  But since Abbott brought it up, it's fair to speculate: what economic benefit to the state has his own marriage produced (his only daughter is an adopted child)?  And if there's no responsible procreation activities going on in the Abbott household.... of what good to the general welfare of Texas has his marriage been?

By Greg Abbott's own logic, why should a paralyzed man be allowed to marry?

Charles has more, less graphic than me.  Update: And so do Margaret and Helen.  The Dallas News, tracking the case developments, notes that it will be several weeks before the Fifth weighs in.


Unknown said...

The brief is ridiculous, obviously. However, the argument is actually as good an argument as the anti-gay marriage folks are going to be able to come up with.

Here's the thing: The bans have been losing because the state attorneys general haven't been able to come up with a legit reason why they treat people differently - why they'll issue YOU a license to marry Suzy but not me.

With Equal Protection, you have to say, "This is the purpose of the law, this is how the different treatment is related to the purpose of the law." It doesn't have to be a very good reason, but it does have to be related.

Still, the fact that Texas laws regarding marriage and laws regarding parenthood have almost no overlap... that's going to be a problem for him. Texas law does NOT connect parenthood and marriage, yet he says that it's the reason for the state's interest in marriage.

Gadfly said...

Ahh, that tired old argument.

And, given that state's history, Utah was doubly hypocritical in its argument.

You want procreation? Shouldn't you be arguing for traditional Mormon polygamy as part of the game?

I do like Kuff's title, although from what I know of him, he wasn't intentional in using the word "junk."

Because, yes, this is the same old "junk."

AG Strangeabbott's a tired old "dick," probably complete with polygamist cave sex fantasies.