No matter how
you dress it up…

The Roman Catholic Churchand the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (along, of course, with National Organization for Marriage) are working the refs. In a planned, well orchestrated and well financed campaign they seem to be proliferating the airwaves, newspapers and the Internet.

Students at Princeton University don’t just find their way to Robert George’s office. Not at all. Robert George is an Opus Dei recruiter on campus. He can attract the relative handful of conservative Catholics at an Ivy League university  because of religious convictions and zealotry.

Ryan T. Anderson was an undergraduate in Princeton’s class of 2004. Now he has coauthored a treatise on marriage with Robby George and another member of his class, Sherif Gergis.

Together, they are promoting their definition of marriage which is one that conforms with, and is obedient to, the teachings of the Catholic Church. It includes all this rubbish about responsible procreation. The problem with all of this, aside from the obvious intellectual dishonesty, is that we are not living in the 16th century when the Church had the power to define marriage for everyone. The arguments that Anderson, for example, makes are ponderous and verbose but, at the same time, irrelevant and illogical. Some of this made its way into the briefs. I expect someone as gifted as Justice Kagan to take a weed whacker to much of the meaningless BS.

The argument only exists as an attempt to offer a secular reason to oppose marriage equality.

Oklahoma, the reddest of red states, defines marriage as follows:

Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract to which the consent of parties legally competent of contracting and of entering into it is necessary, and the marriage relation shall only be entered into, maintained or abrogated as provided by law.

I have gone through all 50 states’ domestic relations laws. Most don’t bother to define marriage. They just establish the criteria for obtaining a marriage license. Not one of our states even has the word “procreation” in their marriage laws. Usually, the criteria are age of consent and filial distance between the two intendeds. Many states have a two-tiered fee for a marriage license. The fee is reduced by half, or more, if the couple obtains premarital counseling.

Florida is one of the few states that defines the state’s interest in marriage:

The state has a compelling interest in promoting not only marriage but also responsible parenting, which may include the payment of child support.

That would apply to heterosexual and homosexual couples equally.

Nebraska is similar to Oklahoma:

In law, marriage is considered a civil contract, to which the consent of the parties capable of contracting is essential.

Once you get through all of the nonsense, the states agree that marriage is a civil and social contract between two people that the state recognizes as a legal union. The states require marriage licenses before people can enter into these legal contrasts. The states’ interests seem to be:

  • To prevent underage people from entering into marriage.
  • To prevent close relatives from marrying.
  • To provide a legal framework for child support if is necessary in the future;  And, of course, in those states with a constitutional amendment –
  • To prevent gay people from marrying.

I am assuming that Charles Cooper will be arguing this case. Cooper is a great lawyer but he has already faltered. In his reply brief, he states that the purpose of marriage:

… is to channel potentially procreative
sexual relationships into enduring, stable unions for
the sake of responsibly producing and raising the
next generation.

The obvious problem with that argument (which I expect the Justices to slice and dice) is that it has a zero-sum predicate.  In other words, will gay marriage cause any heterosexual unions to enter into something other than “enduring, stable unions?” Will they abandon responsibility for “producing and raising the next generation?” Should Cooper say “yes” to either of these questions, one of the Justices is going to ask “why?” Ultimately, Cooper will be required to reconcile religious opprobrium with civil law and that is a very difficult task. To accomplish that, he has to demonstrate that same-sex marriage is somehow harmful to society. Doing so, is seemingly impossible.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.