Civil Liberties

Procreative Propositions


Pranking the system:

The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance seeks to defend equal marriage in this state by challenging the Washington Supreme Court's ruling on Andersen v. King County. This decision, given in July 2006, declared that a "legitimate state interest" allows the Legislature to limit marriage to those couples able to have and raise children together. Because of this "legitimate state interest," it is permissible to bar same-sex couples from legal marriage.

The way we are challenging Andersen is unusual: using the initiative, we are working to put the Court's ruling into law. We will do this through three initiatives. The first would make procreation a requirement for legal marriage. The second would prohibit divorce or legal separation when there are children. The third would make the act of having a child together the legal equivalent of a marriage ceremony.

Andersen may make the satire timely, but the man behind the proposals, Gregory Gadow, has been kicking the ideas around for at least a decade. He is now at work on the first initiative, with a measure to annull any marriage that doesn't produce a child within three years. (Gadow told CBS that he considered requiring procreation before marriage, but "we didn't want to piss off the fundamentalists too much.")

When I lived in Washington state in the mid-'90s, a drive to ban gay adoptions prompted some activists on the other side to propose the "Responsibility in Adoptions Act," a initiative to bar any "person who practices right-wing fundamentalist Christianity" from adopting children or serving as foster parents. (No, it didn't make it onto the ballot.) I emailed Gadow to ask if he was involved with the earlier effort too; he says he wasn't, though it did "provide some of the inspiration" for his own mock proposals. I'm not surprised it was someone else: Despite the superficial similarity, Gadow's gag is a lot funnier.