Gay Marriage

Utah's Defense of Gay Marriage Ban Now Even Less About Actual Gay People


How does this marriage stuff work? Tell me, oh great state of Utah!
Credit: Jason Stitt |

Utah's ban on recognizing same-sex marriages, struck down by a federal judge last year, is now before a three-judge panel at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. To keep us all in suspense, one judge appears friendly to the state's argument, one appears to want to strike the law down, and one had tough questions for both sides.

I've previously noted the creepy statist paternalism of Utah's defense of its gay marriage ban; several of their arguments revolve around the state giving heterosexual women the proper messaging that they're supposed to marry men and have children, and somehow letting gays marry screws that all up. Their defense just got a little bit stranger and even less about actual gay people.

Utah originally drew from the controversial study from Mark Regnerus, whose report that children of gay parents are less happy than children of straight parents has been attacked for poor methodology. (I explained the problems previously here.) Michigan also used Regenerus' study and brought him in as a witness to defend the state's ban. But a judge blasted his research and struck the state's ban down.

So this week Utah sent a notice to the court attempting to de-emphasize the role of the Regenerus study in its defense of a same-sex marriage ban. This is what they say as they downplay the importance of Regnerus to the state's case:

As the State's briefing makes clear, the State's principal concern is the potential long-term impact of a redefinition of marriage on the children of heterosexual parents. The debate over man-woman versus same-sex parenting has little if any bearing on that issue, given that being raised in a same-sex household would normally not be one of the alternatives available to children of heterosexual parents.

The italics are in the original letter. BuzzFeed has the whole short but amazing letter posted here. I will be curious to see how the court might respond to the argument that a ban on gay marriage recognition has nothing to do with gay families at all.