Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Iowa case

I had thought about live-blogging the oral arguments before the Iowa Supreme Court today, but that didn't pan out--I had some errands to do around that time. Fortunately, KatRose at Pam's House Blend did it herself. And for anyone interested, there's video of the proceedings here.

This article kinda suggests that some of the justices (they don't really indicate how many) were hostile to the idea of same-sex marriage, because, they queried, wouldn't it lead to polygamy?
An attorney for six same-sex Iowa couples insisted that allowing gay marriage would not open the door to polygamous marriages, despite challenges from several Iowa Supreme Court justices.

Dennis Johnson, a Des Moines lawyer, said marriage would remain an institution of two people even if the high court allowed gay couples to wed. The assertion came in response to questions from several justices that gay marriage would open the door to other types of marriage.

"How do you stop?" asked Justice Mark Cady. "How do you stop more than two people from getting married?"

Johnson said a marriage "has always been well defined within the concept of two people," and that polygamy would change its historic meaning. Same-sex couples, by contrast, should have the right to marry because they meet all other requirements to wed, he said.

"This right is a time-honored right and tradition in this society," Johnson said. "What you see is that people have always had a fundamental right to marry. The court has made it clear. With more than two people, you would change the meaning of marriage."

Oh, swell. Looks like he botched it; that'll just lend strength to the people saying the exact same thing about same-sex marriage. And no, marriage has not "always been well defined within the concept of two people", you twit! Polygamy was the norm in most cultures on earth!

In my view, there's a fairly simple distinction (at least legally) between same-sex marriage and polygamy. Banning same-sex marriage means that gays can't get married at all, forever. This is not the case with banning polygamy--it's absurd to say that you're barred from the fundamental right to marry someone when the bar is that you're already married. It's the difference between a store giving out coupons that stipulate one per person per visit, and that store barring blacks from buying there at all.

Not to say that I'm really opposed to polygamy, mind. Frankly, I think the whole slippery-slope argument is absurd. If there's a reason to ban polygamy, then that should stand whether or not gays can get married. If there's no such reason, then why should it matter if gay marriage leads to polygamy?

Anywho. The state seemed mostly to be arguing a couple things: (1) that this shouldn't be decided by the courts--that is, they should defer to the legislature. Why, I can't understand (well, the legal rationale for that, I can't understand). The legislature isn't allowed to pass laws that contravene the constitution, no matter whether or not marriage laws are generally their jurisdiction or whether people really, really, hate gay marriage. (2) They were claiming that marriage is about procreation (snicker) and if gays can get married, then soon people won't believe that marriage is about procreation, and then they won't get married at all!
"We're saying that, after a generation, maybe two, people will see or could come to believe that if it's not necessary to have its biological father, or its biological mother, then what's the need for getting married?" Kuhle said.


Kuhle said that state support of same-sex marriage would teach future generations that marriage is no longer about procreation, one of its historic tenets.

How that works, I don't know. Most people don't enter into a marriage thinking "this is all about procreation" anyways. We let infertile couples and opposite-sex couples who have no intention of having children marry. And yet people still get married. Letting gays get married will just lead to more people marrying.

And if you're worried that parents should be married, for the kids' sakes, then let gay people get married! Gay people have children--the couples involved in this case have children! How can you say that you want them to be raised in a household with a married couple when you're fighting against that very thing!?

And what about foster homes or adoptive parents? Eh? Are they going to prevent people from marrying because they're not the biological mother and/or father? This is all absurd!

And (3), they were arguing that the trial court erred by not allowing the state to field some expert witnesses. They may have a point here. Or, on the other hand, the judge may have been doing them a favor, not listening to some of their expert witnesses. In fact, according to KatRose's transcript, the witnesses were "3 religion experts, an economist and one historian". Why any of their specialties should be needed, I've no idea... well, maybe the historian.

Also, according to her transcript, the attorney for the state at one point said (paraphrasing): "How can a woman teach a boy to be a man? How can a man teach a girl to be a woman?"

So we should take away the sons of single mothers, and the daughters of single husbands? Bah.

I should hope the court could see through all this vapid nonsense, but so few courts have before. Here's hoping.

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