Wednesday, July 26, 2006


The Washington State Supreme Court has upheld Washington's Defense of Marriage legislation, and I am not very impressed. There seems to be a lot of talk about tangential issues - about the well-being of children in same-sex headed households, mostly - but what I find to be very underexplained in the media coverage so far is this:
She wrote that the same-sex couples failed to prove that they had a fundamental right to marry, or that the state's 1998 Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.
Oh, okay. So why is that, exactly? Why isn't it gender discrimination? Why isn't it discriminatory on the basis of sexuality? The article doesn't explain any further, which leaves a lot of questions about the actual legal reasoning surrounding the decision completely unanswered for us non-lawyer folk.

The coverage is long on bloviating about the sanctity of marriage and the child-centered notion of marriage, which would be too preposterous to address were it not so pervasive. I like what reports:
In a dissent, Justice Bobbe J Bridge said that " if the DOMA is really about the 'sanctity' of marriage, as its title implies, then it is clearly an unconstitutional foray into state-sanctioned religious belief. If the DOMA purports to further some State purpose of preserving the family unit, as the plurality would interpret it, then I cannot imagine better candidates to fulfill that purpose than the same-sex couples who are the plaintiffs in these consolidated actions."
Pre-freaking-cisely. Even if I were to accept that children need to live in a home with a mother and a father (and I decidedly do not) there are already plenty of kids living in situations other than that. Even further, gay couples have children quite often, and straight couples or single people of any sexual orientation can adopt.

The family unit is not defined by the at least sometime presence of a father and a mother. The family unit is not even defined by whether or not a couple is married! If the state wants to nudge kids into straight-headed families, marriage is not the right tool with which to do it. Marriage addresses the legal relationship between two adults, and custody laws are what define the relationship between children and guardians. If you're going to try and rend apart a parent and child, at least use the correct laws, people. As it is, children are being used as pawns in a battle for the supremacy of heteronormativity, and it's senseless.

Overall, however, remember:.
"We see no reason, however, why the legislature or the people acting through the initiative process would be foreclosed from extending the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples in Washington," the ruling, signed by Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, said.

"It is important to note that the court's role is limited to determining the constitutionality of DOMA and that our decision is not based on an independent determination of what we believe the law should be."
In other words, please ignore the bloviating and write a real law.

No comments: