Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Because children are our future

I resent being used as a prop, I really do. Especially in a political debate, especially for the side I vehemently disagree with.

So there I was, having a screwed up morning that caused me to be driving to work much later than usual. And there it was, on my radio, a talk show on NPR discussing the California Supreme Court decision on the legality of same-sex marriage. And there he was, the anti-gay marriage guest, Douglas W. Kmiec, Professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University School of Law, sounding all reasonable. He was impressed, he said, with the integrity of the Justices in the majority. He disagreed, he said, with their decision, but it was, he said, well argued and well reasoned, and while reasonable people can disagree, he said, you can see how they got there. Hm, I thought, this commute might not suck today.

But then... There is always a then, isn't there? Then he was asked to explain why it was that he thought the decision was incorrect. He started, sounding all reasonable again, about how there are benefits of marriage that are undeniable, this, that, and the other thing, then got slightly less reasonable when he suggested that people who view marriage as a religious institution should be accommodated (um, say what? nobody is making those people marry a person of the same sex, are they?). And then the rails and the train parted ways altogether as the good professor turned to a point on how even if we leave the religious considerations out of it, there is a compelling state interest in keeping marriage as an institution between a man and a woman.

Can you guess what that interest is? Can you, can you, can you? Because it's not that I have never heard this one before. It's just that he sounded so... well, reasonable, before, that it took me by complete surprise to see him fall back onto this ridiculousness. It's the children, people. Our future. Favoring the unions open to natural procreation is that compelling state interest. Procreation, procreation, procreation. Cause there are places, you know, where population is declining. And what does that do to the social security problem? And of course, if you look at Western Europe... and so on, and so forth.

I knew there was no way I would get on the air, but I still dialed. A number of times, actually, while driving. Which is something I try not to do, btw. Busy signal every time. I didn't get to listen through the end of the program, so I don't know whether anyone else got on to make my points, but since I am still boiling over here, even two work meetings later, I think I'd better put them down in pixels. So here we go.

1. 12.5% of the population is infertile. Which doesn't mean 12.5% of couples, since sometimes two sub- or infertile people marry, but let's round it out to maybe one in twelve couples. I think that's generous, but what the hell? I am feeling generous here. So, are we going to start having fertility profiles as part of the application process for marriage licenses? And are we, as a result, going to simply notify the other party, or are we actually going to deny the licenses to the infertile partners? Or will we allow licenses but only upon proof of insurance coverage for infertility?

2. Speaking of which, should I expect to see Professor Kmiec among the leading supporters of the universal insurance coverage for infertility? Because if the state interest in us procreating is so compelling, I think leaving out one in twelve couples (generous, remember?) is dumb public policy. But no, quick google search shows that the only context in which Professor Kmiec talks about infertility is in his 2004 paper where he argues that that acceptance of the procreative state interest does not depend upon excluding from marriage those who cannot physically procreate because of age or infertility and that adoption and asexual reproduction by homosexual couples do not substantially affect procreation rates. Hm, really? Because one in twelve seems like a big deal to me. Not while being able to procreate depends on how much money you have, of course. But if we had that insurance coverage.... Perhaps a study of mandated coverage states vs. not might be in order.

3. So, while we are at it, should we deny marriage licenses to women over, say, 45? Or should they be able to visit their beloved in the hospital, but only if said beloved is of male persuasion? If grandma and grandpa, in the waning years of their lives meet and want to spend the rest of those years together, is it ok? Because it's beautiful and touching, and doesn't affect the population so much. But if it's grandma and grandma, that's a problem, right? Or, heaven forbid, grandpa and grandpa? Eeeewwww, gross... Right?

4. And finally, does Professor Kmiec really believe that denying homosexual males the right to marry another male is going to cause them to, en masse, pick a female, marry her and have children? And because I happen to know how much lawyers in general, and law professors in particular love hypotheticals, here's one-- would the good professor wish a husband like that for his daughter? Just asking, you know, because the state interest is so very compelling.

I am an immigrant, an academic, a Volvo-driving latte-lover, an infertile or a subfertile, depending on how you look at it, and a mother of a dead baby. I am sure there are many prop masters out there who would love to use me in their scenarios. They better make sure I don't hear about it, though. Cause I also have a big mouth and a temper.


Blog abandonment was entirely non-intentional-- just burning the candle at both ends and from the middle in the past week. But I do have things to say-- one from all the way last week, and one that I have been mulling over since this morning, a sad thing, that needs more time and patience to articulate itself. So this week may be the flood to last week's drought. See you around.


Tash said...

Ugh, these guys (and they're always guys, too) kill me with this argument -- like we're going to shrivel up as a species or something. sadly, I have a feeling he'd just nod and condescendingly smile if you were to present these facts to him. And come up with another argument. Like the one he made there where "we" all don't matter.

I'm in a rut here too. Not much but yuck going up lately. Hopeful end in sight.

Snickollet said...

Oh how I wish you'd gotten on the air!

Been thinking about you and missing your posts. Hope things calm a bit for you soon.

janis said...

Actually, if we are allowed to evolve further, Men are supposed to be out of the picture. Because, well, they only serve one purpose. And studies show that, women can evolve themselves to do that. You know, some animals just reproduce themselves.
What crazy, stupid arguments. I wish they could at least be more entertaining, instead of just being laughable.

Beruriah said...


Looking forward to reading what's brewing.

slouching mom said...

too bad you didn't get through. it would have been AWESOME.

sweetsalty kate said...

What a great, fist-pumping post. I can't believe that guy was being given air time with such ridiculousness.

thrice said...

As a daughter of a gay man, who intentionally married a woman to be his beard, please allow me to explain how this is a bad thing. It made my gay father really, really angry that he had to live a sham of a lifestyle. Oh and how did that turn out? Just swell. Anyone want to see some scars?

Anonymous said...

Yikes. I wish you had gotten on the air.

Magpie said...

you totally rock. i'm sorry you didn't get on the air.

Busted said...

I wish you had been able to get through and shoot a hole in this guy's argument. Although law professors are impossible to argue with, but it would have been worth a shot.

Ya Chun said...

Yeah, what you said!

Some states do testing before marriage, I think for Rh factor. Nothing tho in FL.

And you don't need to be married to reproduce.

And isnt the world over populated anyway? Should the gov't really be promoting more resource use? Maybe we should reward those keeping their genes out of the pool or that adopt.

Anyway, legislating personla stuff is a bad idea. Do what you want as long as you don't hurt others.

Glad i didnt hear this guy on NPR myself - i would have been steaming too!

Brooke said...

Brava! Well written. I agree with everything you said.
What's laughable is that a huge number of same sex couples are conceiving and having children.
Exhibit A *points to self*
So this whole theory that its all about having children is inherently flawed. Are you also going to say to a menopausal woman that she doesnt have the right to marry because she can't bear children?
Women with hysterectomies?
Women with infertility issues?
Women who CHOOSE not to have children?

Its just ridiculous. Disagree with the decision all you want, but seriously, make sure your argument makes sense!!!

(who, in her country is still denied all rights - including (in her state) rights to fertility treatments)

luna said...

excellent points. how I wish you'd gotten through!

christina(apronstrings) said...

sheesh illogical thinking abounds, no? did you know in FLA that same sex couples can't adopt foster kids? and so hundreds of thousands are shipped btwn numerous temporary families. it makes me sick really.

Mrs. Spit said...


Can I just hang my head and wish that I didn't have to call myself a Christian, along with people like him. The problem with the big tent thing is that it's hard to tell the difference between big tent and circus tent. . .

Amelie said...

Too bad you didn't get through. The seemingly reasonable are the worst.

niobe said...

I think that the issue of same-sex marriage is going to become a non-issue in the reasonably near future. In fact, in, say, 20 years, I'd bet that there'll be very, very few people opposed to or even uncomfortable with it.

So, for me, it's hard to take people like Doug Kmeic seriously. In fact, I'd be surprised if even he truly believes what he's saying.

kate said...

Too bad your call didn't get through.

Also, i like janis's comment. What with the state of things in my household lately, i am wondering if we can speed up that evolution somehow? ;)

The Town Criers said...

Your argument is brilliant, Julia. I'd love to watch you go head-to-head with him.

Carole said...

I so wish you had gotten through. The absolute ignorance of this man is astounding. What a moron.

LAS said...

Oh, I wish you had gotten through, I would have loved to have heard that! Great points. I totally get myself all worked up over things like this - I totally would have tried to call in!

LawMommy said...

Oh, I just want to say, amen, amen, and amen.

I am so bothered by the fact that people are upset enough about this to get organized in California - they are upset about THIS, when there are 51,000 people dead in China this week and who knows how many in Myanmar? But, gay marriage has people getting mobilized? I really don't understand it.

BlackenedBoy said...

You just tore his argument to shreds. I wish that we had more people like you speaking out in public.