As the Supreme Court deliberates over issues related to same-sex marriage in the United States, one argument continues to surface that simply has no logical foundation. Whether you believe gay Americans should be allowed to marry or not, apparently there are many who think the purpose of marriage is for procreation. The sole purpose.
Recent articles arguing against same-sex marriage sum it up nicely: “Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces.” I’m more in tune with a childfree Philadelphia writer pointed out that married people—regardless of their gender or parental status—are happier, healthier, less stressed, more economically stable, more civically engaged, and are even less likely to commit crimes than their single counterparts.
I’m a by-chance NotMom looking forward to my 20th wedding anniversary in July. If this argument is valid, then my marriage isn’t. And, if you know from the start of a relationship that you and your partner both choose not to have children, you might as well just live together and save all that wedding expense.
The Supreme Court is reviewing California’s Proposition 8, an ordinance that outlawed gay marriage in that state less than a year after the state’s high court approved it. (Ellen DeGeneres and Portia Rossi are among the 18,000 same-sex California couples who married during that short timeframe.) When the lawyer for Prop 8 supporters persisted in emphasizing the “historic traditional procreative purposes” of marriage, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan countered with the fact that infertile couples have every right to marry.
From the March 26th transcript:
JUSTICE KAGAN: If you are over the age of 55, you don’t help us serve the Government’s interest in regulating procreation through marriage. So why is that different?
MR. COOPER: Your Honor, even with respect to couples over the age of 55, it is very rare that both couples—both parties to the couple are infertile, and the traditional—
JUSTICE KAGAN: No, really, because if the couple—I can just assure you, if both the woman and the man are over the age of 55, there are not a lot of children coming out of that marriage.
MR. COOPER: Your Honor, society’s—society’s interest in responsible procreation isn’t just with respect to the procreative capacities of the couple itself. The marital norm, which imposes the obligations of fidelity and monogamy, Your Honor, advances the interests in responsible procreation by making it more likely that neither party, including the fertile party to that…
After offside giggling among the Justices about the fertility of older men, the lawyer responded with an argument that marriage stops those fertile old buggers from, well, screwing around.
MR. COOPER: Very few men—very few men outlive their own fertility. So I just—JUSTICE KAGAN: A couple where both people are over the age of 55—
MR. COOPER: I—
JUSTICE KAGAN: A couple where both people are over the age of 55.
MR. COOPER: And Your Honor, again, the marital norm which imposes upon that couple the obligation of fidelity…. It’s designed, Your Honor, to make it less likely that either party to that—to that marriage will engage in irresponsible procreative conduct outside of that marriage. Outside of that marriage.
It was, in short, a very weird SCOTUS moment.
Justice Kagan, by the way, is 52 years old. She has never married and has no children.