An Odd Twist in the Gay Marriage Debate

This March 26th the Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases on the issue of gay marriage: Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor. The two cases bring different issues to the Court but both deal with the issue of gay marriage.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear these cases; lower courts in both cases ruled in favor of gay marriage and if the court had not taken the cases it would have cleared the way for gay marriage.

Opponents of gay marriage have consistently argued that marriage has been, is, and always should be between one man and one woman. A group called Protect Marriage outlines these views.

A few days ago they appeared to change tactics; I say “appeared” because I’m still scratching my head over this. You can read the article in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, and a follow up article in today’s paper.

As far as I can tell, this is what happened: Both cases put government in the role of defendant (the state of California in Hollingsworth v. Perry and the federal government in United States v. Windsor) and in both cases the governments refused to defend the laws. Several groups have taken that role, including a group of Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. This group hired a former Solicitor General under President Bush, Paul D. Clement, to argue on their behalf.

He filed an argument that said this (my interpretation): Heterosexual unmarried couples live with the possibility of an unexpected pregnancy. Children do better when raised in a home with two parents, and societal pressure for the couple to get married (known colloquially as a “shotgun marriage”) benefits everyone. Homosexual marriage has no possibility of an unexpected pregnancy. Therefore, if we allow gays to marry, we turn marriage from “have to” to “want to.” This will remove the pressure on a heterosexual pregnant couple to get married, and they won’t. This will harm society as children raised by one parent don’t do as well as children raised by two parents.

I can only hope I’m reading it wrong.

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