Nevada Marriage Ruling Insults All “Non-Traditional” Families

He probably doesn’t know it’s National Adoption Month. But when U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Jones ruled that Nevada’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples did not violate the U.S. Constitution, he insulted not only same-sex couples, but also adoptive and single-parent families.

From the ruling (my emphasis):

Human beings are created through the conjugation of one man and one woman. The percentage of human beings conceived through non-traditional methods is minuscule, and adoption, the form of child-rearing in which same-sex couples may typically participate together, is not an alternative means of creating children, but rather a social backstop for when traditional biological families fail.

“When traditional biological families fail?” The circumstances that lead to birth parents placing a child for adoption are so varied that we can’t simply label them all as failures. That’s simplistic and insulting.

He continues:

The perpetuation of the human race depends upon traditional procreation between men and women. The institution developed in our society, its predecessor societies, and by nearly all societies on Earth throughout history to solidify, standardize, and legalize the relationship between a man, a woman, and their offspring, is civil marriage between one man and one woman.

Really? Let me quote from another source:

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

Abram agreed to what Sarai said.  So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived (Genesis 16:1-4).

Not to mention Jacob, whose two wives, Leah and Rachel, each urged him to have children with their maids, Bilhah and Zilpah, when they could not conceive themselves (Genesis 30:1-13). I’m no biblical scholar, but anyone who has even a cursory familiarity with the Bible knows it’s rife with “non-traditional” families. And as Melissa Harris-Perry said the other day,  “Even Jesus was born to an unwed mom and raised by a doting stepfather.”

So that whole argument about society being built upon “one man-one woman” marriage kind of falls apart.

Still, Jones keeps at it, saying that if same-sex couples marry, opposite-sex couples may not want to be associated with it any more, and this will lead to all kinds of trouble:

Should that institution be expanded to include same-sex couples with the state’s imprimatur, it is conceivable that a meaningful percentage of heterosexual persons would cease to value the civil institution as highly as they previously had and hence enter into it less frequently, opting for purely private ceremonies, if any, whether religious or secular, but in any case without civil sanction, because they no longer wish to be associated with the civil institution as redefined, leading to an increased percentage of out-of-wedlock children, single-parent families, difficulties in property disputes after the dissolution of what amount to common law marriages in a state where such marriages are not recognized, or other unforeseen consequences.

Out-of-wedlock children. The horror. Bastardy really isn’t such an issue these days, unless you’re a Game of Thrones fan. (That’s not to say that marriage doesn’t convey certain protections to children—one of the reasons I personally wanted to marry—but not all will choose to take that path, and that’s okay. Last I checked, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had several children out of wedlock, and those kids seem to be doing all right.) Similarly, not all single parents fit the stereotype of the “welfare mom.”

And this ruling came from Nevada, home of the drive-thru wedding chapel?

The Nevada announcement is disheartening, especially after four earlier rulings in which federal courts have held part of DOMA to be unconstitutional, including one just over a month ago by a U.S. Circuit Court. It makes me doubly anxious about today’s expected announcement from the U.S. Supreme Court about whether it will hear any of those cases. Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed has a good summary of the Court’s most likely moves.

Stay tuned, folks, and in the meantime, give your kids a hug. The arc of the moral universe will keep flexing.