The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments on California’s Prop 8, the law banning same-sex marriage in California. Because legalese is hard to understand, I’ve translated some of the arguments made against marriage equality, and one of the arguments made for it, from yesterday’s hearing.
1. Justice Samuel Alito kvetched to the Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, “Traditional marriage has been around for thousands of years. Same-sex marriage is very new…. But you want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cell phones or the Internet? I mean we — we are not — we do not have the ability to see the future.”
2. Attorney George Cooper defended Prop 8 by arguing that, “The concern is that redefining marriage as a genderless institution will sever its abiding connection to its historic traditional procreative purposes, and it will refocus the purpose of marriage and the definition of marriage away from the raising of children…”
Translation: Marriage is about having children. Which is why we don’t let people who can’t have children marry each other. Oh, wait, we do. People like Justice John Roberts and his wife who adopted their children.
3. When Justice Elena Kagan asked Cooper if, based on his marriage equals reproduction logic, the court should be able to ban marriage between couples older than 55, he responded no because “Even with respect to couples over the age of fifty-five, it’s very rare that both parties to the couple are infertile”; men, he said, “rarely outlive their fertility.”
4. Justice (though it really pains me to call him that) Antonin Scalia claimed, “there’s considerable disagreement among sociologists as to what the consequences of raising a child in a single-sex family, whether that is harmful to the child or not…. That’s a possible deleterious effect, isn’t it?”
Translation: Having gay parents is bad for children. Unless you listen to all the evidence and credible sources that prove it’s not. Besides which, even if we say, for argument’s sake, that it is bad for kids, which it’s not, is having gay married parents worse than gay unmarried parents?
5. Justice Anthony Kennedy was a voice of reason and compassion when he said to Cooper “There is an immediate legal injury or legal—what could be a legal injury… and that’s the voice of these children. There are some 40,000 children in California . . . that live with same-sex parents. They want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of these children is important, don’t you think?”
Translation: Obviously, if you have any empathy and your judgement is unclouded by hatred and fear, it becomes clear that it is in the best interest of children not to be told that they are the products of freaks who don’t deserve equal rights. But I certainly don’t expect someone like Scalia, who once called gay sex “flagpole sitting,” to concede that.
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