In California, the first round of what will almost certainly be a long court battle over gay marriage has just wrapped up the trial phase. After the mayor of San Francisco began performing gay marriages last year (a bad, and politically motivated, idea), opponents of gay marriage appealed immediately to the California Supreme Court. That court did order a halt to the gay marriages, which are specifically forbidden by California law, but refused to rule on the constitutionality of that law until it worked its way up through the courts in standard fashion. In the first phase, the judge has ordered the attorneys for more arguments in writing, but the oral argument has wrapped and he is expected to issue a ruling by April. That trial has predictably brought about plenty of illogical arguments against gay marriage. To wit:
The future of same-sex marriage in California was left in the hands of a San Francisco Superior Court judge Thursday after a conservative group closed two days of hearings by arguing that gays and lesbians were inherently unfit for marriage.
“They can’t perform the basic functions of marriage,” said Rena Lindevaldsen, an attorney for the Campaign for California Families. “There is a basic difference between opposite-sex and same-sex couples … the ability to procreate and, therefore, insure the existence and survival of our species.”…
Limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples who can raise their own biological children “brings stability to the society,” said Glen Lavy, an Alliance Defense Fund lawyer representing the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Such an absurd argument. In competitive debate, the response would be that this is missing an internal link. Even if it’s true that gay couples lack the ability to procreate (which isn’t necessarily true with artificial insemination, a la Melissa Etheridge and Julie Cypher), and even if it’s true that the ability to procreate insures the existence and survival of our species, there’s no reason why allowing those who are not capable of reproducing to marry would impede on the survival of the species. Unless it can be shown that gay marriage would damage straight marriage, and hence damage the means of reproduction, there’s just no impact to the argument. We allow infertile couples to get married even though they can’t “perform the basic functions of marriage” and allowing them to marry doesn’t have any effect whatsoever on those marriages that do involve reproducing. The same is obviously true of gay marriage. Are straight couples going to stop getting married or stop having children if gays are allowed to marry? Of course not. So there’s no reason to believe that gay marriage is going to have any effect at all on the “stability of society” or the survival of the species. It’s just a ridiculous argument.
This attorney also tried to argue that forbidding gay marriage somehow protects children, prompting this response from the plaintiff’s attorney:
She derided an argument by Lindevaldsen that the ban on same-sex marriage was designed to protect children by promoting families with biological ties. “Child abusers, child molesters, even child murderers can get married as long as they marry someone of the opposite sex,” Kaiser said.
What makes the “protect the children” argument so absurd is that gay marriage doesn’t change anything regarding gays raising children. Some gay people have their own children; others adopt children, in states where that is legal. It already exists, and gay marriage wouldn’t change that. Ultimately, the only way they can truly “protect the children” is by taking away the children of gay couples. And that’s not nearly as farfetched as it sounds, it has happened many times.
Want a perfect example? Take a look at this. This gay couple, together longer than most straight couples I know, have raised 6 children, including 3 who were born with AIDS (one of them died from it at age 6). All of these children came to them as infants and none of them have ever known any other family. But the state of Florida is still trying to find someone else to take one of the children from them, because he is under 14 and therefore still deemed “adoptable” and, under Florida law, gay people cannot adopt children. The state of Florida wants to “protect the children” by taking them away from the only home they have ever known, away from the only family they have, to give them to total strangers solely because those strangers don’t happen to be gay. This is nothing short of insanity, motivated solely by bigotry.
And it doesn’t stop there. In Virginia, Sharon Bottoms lost custody of her son based solely upon the fact that she is a lesbian, and custody was given instead to her mother, the child’s maternal grandmother. There was not the slightest evidence that Sharon Bottoms had been an unfit mother, the father of the child wanted her to retain custody, and every bit of evidence from psychologists and social workers indicated that there was no reason whatsoever to disrupt the family. By contrast, Sharon and others testified that her mother had regularly had boyfriends who had assaulted her when she was growing up. Despite every single bit of evidence and testimony being on her side, the judge removed the child and granted custody to the grandmother. Why? Because homosexual sodomy was against the law in Virginia, and that made her a lawbreaker and therefore an unfit parent. That law was overturned last year by the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, and I hope now that Bottoms takes her case to federal court and gets the state court decision overturned.
Every single study that has been done on children raised by gay parents shows that they at least as happy, healthy and well adjusted as the children of straight parents, with at least two studies showing that gay parents actually show better parenting skills as a group. Not one study has ever been done that shows the opposite. All of the evidence is squarely against such restrictions, and this position is endorsed by the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Association of Social Workers and the Child Welfare League of America. There is simply no rational reason to deny to gay parents the right to be parents.
This is just another example of where rhetoric and reality are in conflict. I don’t wanna hear the so cons talk about “family values” because they don’t value families, only families that look just like theirs. Steve Lofton, Roger Croteau and the 5 at-risk children that they have taken in and raised are a family, and those who would seek to destroy that prove once and for all that their rhetoric is a lie. They will gladly destroy a family if it serves their sick and twisted sense of moral judgement, and the time has come for decent Americans to stand up and put them into the closet. Let bigotry become the shameful thing that being gay once was, the kind of thing you have to whisper about and keep secret from your family. The world will be a better place for it.