Here’s the latest line of argument put before the Supreme Court against same-sex marriages.
Same-sex marriage is bad because gays don’t have unplanned pregnancies.
I’m not kidding. I wish I were.
My colleague David Savage’s weekend story about legal briefs submitted in support of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act’s bans on gay marriage left me incredulous, flummoxed, mystified, gobsmacked -- well, get out your own thesaurus.
Paul D. Clement, a solicitor general under President George W. Bush and now representing House Republicans, argued that marriage should be only for men and women because only straight couples can “produce unplanned and unintended offspring.”
By contrast, if gay people want to have a child, “substantial advance planning is required.”
So planned children are -- bad? And unexpected, possibly unwanted children are -- good?
And that’s a sound legal argument against gay marriage?
According to Clement, yes, because “unintended children” born and raised out of wedlock “would pose a burden on society.” As of 2010, about 40% of U.S. children are born out of wedlock, 10 times the number of 50 and 60 years ago. No one calls them “illegitimate” or “bastards” any longer, and their birth does not send their parents racing to the altar in order to shield the child from now-nonexistent shame -- and to save “society” from the burden of supporting them. (“Darling, mother of my baby, please marry me so we can save our child from the stigma of being on the public teat.”)
So, to sum up: Shotgun weddings are preferable to gay marriages.
Perhaps these lawyers are making a case that unplanned pregnancy is the American way, and certainly, in Colonial America, before the U.S. even existed, maybe a third of brides were pregnant on their wedding day.
The wives of two widely admired and prominent 20th century Americans, President Ronald Reagan and the Rev. Pat Robertson, were pregnant when they married, and enjoyed remarkably durable marriages.
Sarah Palin’s son followed the colonial tradition: Track Palin’s bride was about six months’ pregnant when the couple married (they divorced a year and a half later). But daughter Bristol Palin, who was visibly pregnant at the 2008 GOP nominating convention (which accounts for the sudden appearance of “Republicans for unwed mothers” signs on the convention floor), never did marry the father of her baby, and she is prospering on reality TV and as a spokeswoman for teen pregnancy prevention.
For those lawyers so worried about a slippery slope, does this line of argument not foretell the banning of marriage for non-fertile heterosexual couples, or older couples, because there’s no chance of getting accidentally knocked up? Would they frown on the recent marriage of a Delaware couple whose combined ages total 183?
Elsewhere, the brief argues that gays and lesbians can’t possibly be being discriminated against because they are already “one of the most influential, best-connected, best-funded and best-organized interest groups in modern politics” with “more legislative victories, political power, and popular favor in less time than virtually any other group in American history.”
In other words, don’t be greedy. Look what you’ve got already.
Formal arguments on Proposition 8 are scheduled for March 26-27. If they had pay-per-view on this one, they could practically wipe out the national debt.