6th Circuit Judge Not Buying State’s Argument


On Wednesday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument in cases challenging the constitutionality of four different state law banning same-sex marriage, including Michigan. And at least one of the judges on the panel was not buying the “but straight families are great” argument.

Tennessee’s state attorney told the court that “including opposite-sex couples,” in marriage laws, “furthers the state’s interest, because it’s opposite-sex couples who are having the children, that we’re concerned about.”…

“And they’re going to go on having those children, they’re going to go on getting married, they’re going to go on having children. It’s happening in 21 states where same-sex marriages are allowed. I’m sorry, I’m struggling too. I just don’t quite get the picture. There’s nothing about this that has stopped any heterosexual couple from getting married,” the judge stormed, apparently pounding papers on the bench as she spoke. “Discouraged them from getting married. Kept them from procreating — deliberately or accidentally. What are we dealing with here?”

“If you didn’t have in Tennessee,” the judge continued, “a law or a constitutional amendment outlawing, forbidding same-sex marriages, people would still get married, they would still procreate — deliberately or accidentally. Life would go on just the way it has gone on. What is the point?”

This has been the glaring, gaping hole in this argument from the start. I’ve ridiculed this argument in the past by putting it into a syllogism:

P: Marriage is great and families are important for raising children.
P: NOTHING
C: Therefore, gay marriage is bad.

There’s literally no second premise here. There’s no argument that is even remotely coherent that can link the original premise to the conclusion. The conclusion has no relationship at all to the first premise. Nice to see a judge recognizing that fact.

Comments

  1. skinnercitycyclist says

    Yeah, it’s gotten to the point where really the only response to the anti-equality side’s arguments is: “Are you really that amazingly stupid?”

  2. D. C. Sessions says

    Lots of options for Premise 2:

    * Buttsex is icky!
    * Democracy!!!
    * If we don’t keep them in their place, then my kids may turn queer too!

  3. Lofty says

    Yebbut, banning gay marriage means you can force those people into hetero child bearing marriages, because jeezus. Remove the sole reason for a church’s existence (sex control) and you might as well shut its doors and tell the bigots to go home.

  4. stever says

    Sex control isn’t the sole reason for the existence of churches. A church is a sweet racket for the insiders. It’s one of the few frauds that is not only legal, but actively supported by the State.

  5. Chiroptera says

    As Judge Walker said in Perry v Schwarzenegger:

    “Lol wut? Ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.”

  6. says

    When the Washington State Supreme Court upheld our Denial of Marriage Act in 2006, the “logic” of the lead decision was:

    1. The purpose of marriage is procreation.
    2. The state has a legitimate interest in preserving marriage for that sole purpose.
    3. Therefore, the state has a legitimate interest in refusing to allow same-sex couples to get married, as they cannot have children naturally together.

    It was only a plurality decision: five of the nine justices upheld DOMA, but only four signed the ruling. One of those four, and the remaining fifth, signed a decision that basically came down to “gayz are ikky!!” The dissenting opinion was scathing and fell just short of calling the majority bigots.

    The ruling did, however, incite a group of activists to file Initiative 957 to make procreation a requirement for marriage in Washington State. After all, if the purpose of marriage is procreation… right? It failed to get enough signatures to make it to the ballot, but it got international attention and was mentioned in the amicus briefs to the California and Iowa cases that legalized same-sex marriages in those states. and the whole procreation argument was dropped for several years. Maybe someone should try similar initiatives in Tennessee, Utah and Virginia?

  7. colnago80 says

    There is considerable speculation in the media that the 6th Circuit may rule to overturn the lower court decision. One of the three judges supports the ruling, one judge supports overturning the lower court decision, and the 3rd judge appears to be on the fence but leaning toward overturn. If the court votes to overturn the lower court decision, this would bring strong pressure to bear on the SCOTUS to take one of the cases, whether Kennedy is ready to vote in favor of same sex marriage or not. I have the feeling that the court SCOTUS would rather pass on this for a while.

  8. colnago80 says

    Re Gregory @ #8

    I don’t know about Tennessee or Utah but Virginia doesn’t have an initiative option.

  9. doublereed says

    @7 Gregory

    If you listen to this one’s argument, it seemed to be:

    1. The purpose of marriage is procreation.
    2. The state has a legitimate interest in preserving marriage for that sole purpose.
    3. Therefore, the state has a legitimate interest in allowing opposite-sex couples to get married.

    And that’s it. So the judge is rightfully confused and asking what the point of excluding same-sex couples is. The defense says “That’s not the question being asked.”

  10. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    There’s literally no second premise here. There’s no argument that is even remotely coherent that can link the original premise to the conclusion. The conclusion has no relationship at all to the first premise. Nice to see a judge recognizing that fact.

    I’ve heard a couple attempts at premise 2, such as: The gay lifestyle is so appealing, that if we normalize it, people who would otherwise be straight would be so drawn to it, that they would turn gay. This would drastically reduce the straight population as everyone turns gay.

    Total bullocks of course, but I have heard that argument made, including from many targets of blog posts here.

  11. Ichthyic says

    I have heard that argument made

    note the qualifying phrase Ed added:

    “even remotely coherent”

    so, no you have not heard a remotely coherent argument for premise 2.

  12. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    “Coherent”
    You use that word, but I do not think you know what it means.

    It’s completely coherent. It’s also completely contradicted by the available evidence.

  13. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @dingo
    How is it a non-sequitur?

    P: Marriage is great and families are important for raising children. (implicit) (questionable) Specifically, legal marriage helps maintain birth rates at stable levels to prevent human extinction.
    P: (false) Legalizing and normalizing gayness will lead to massively decreased birth rates and eventual human extinction.
    P: (Implicit) We should avoid human extinction.
    C: Therefore, gay marriage is bad.

    Looks totally valid in structure to me, and thus not a non-sequitur. Yes, I know it’s absurd, but it’s coherent.

  14. dingojack says

    Nope – I’m talking about:
    Premise 1. (FALSE)The purpose of marriage is procreation.
    Premise 2. (FALSE)The state has a legitimate interest in preserving marriage for that sole purpose.
    Conclusion. (DOES NOT FOLLOW)Therefore, the state has a legitimate interest in refusing to allow same-sex couples to get married, as they cannot have children naturally together.
    The (false) premises logically imply the state should encourage maximizing births in ‘breeding couples’. It does not show any state’s interest in preventing gay marriage.
    Dingo

  15. freehand says

    Dingo, you somehow missed P: (false) Legalizing and normalizing gayness will lead to massively decreased birth rates and eventual human extinction.
    .
    If that were true, it would make it a valid argument. Syllogisms often have more than two premisses. P1, P2, conclusion is the minimum needed.
    .
    Actually, if that were true, I would consider it an argument in favor of gay marriage rights; there are too many humans on this planet anyway. But that’s another conversation…

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