Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Best get cracking, newlyweds!

Stick with me, this story requires a bit of reading and may actually need some drawn diagrams. I'll try to help you as best I can.

Here's the current story, from CNN.com: Washington State Marriage Proposal

I've been going around in circles trying to sort out the organization names, which means treading through "spin land". A group called the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance is trying to introduce legislation that will force couples to have children within three years of marriage, or risk having their marriages annulled. The legislation is premised off the idea that marriages are solely for procreation.

When I first read the CNN.com article, I was getting all fired up and righteous. People are trying to justify marriage as only for making babies? Unbelievable! The religious conservatives have gone too far. Even their name, the Defense of Marriage Alliance, sounds like it is all for the "right" kind of marriage.

But wait...

If you visit the W-DOMA website, you find out that they're actually pro gay marriage. Huh? See, it turns out that the "defense of marriage" is meant as ironic. Or possibly even not-ironic, depending on how many layers of subtext you want to believe.

Anyway, Washington State recently barred gay marriage, but it did so by having the courts rule that the state has a compelling interest to insure that marriage results in children. So, the W-DOMA group is trying to bring this interpretation into law, in order to call into question the legality and reasoning behind the original ruling.

Their proposal would do three things. "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." The tactic is to get these laws passed, thus forcing the Washington Supreme Court to declare them unconstitutional.

It's similar to what parties on both sides in South Dakota were trying to do in November. A bill was made law in February 2006 with extremely restrictive abortion controls, which did not consider health of the mother or rape or incest. The bill was passed in the hopes that it would provoke a lawsuit, thereby forcing a re-examination of Roe v. Wade. Instead, the opposition gathered signatures to actually force the measure to go before a state-wide vote in November, where it was defeated. Which opens the way for a slightly less restrictive bill next year, and so forth.

Back to Washington...

One of the pro-heterogeneous marriage (is that an appropriate way to describe them?) groups is quoted in the CNN.com article as confirming that the only important issue is that marriage is only between a man and a woman, and that the issue of children is not the hinging factor. The name of this group is Allies for Marriage and Children, and their website speaks to their outlook: they believe in authentic marriage*.

Gosh, you might say. "What's that asterisk for?" It leads to their definition of what "authentic" means. I'll quote from their website:

Authentic marriage is the time-honored, universally-endorsed relationship between one man and one woman who choose to assume the legal and societal commitments of becoming husband and wife for a lifetime.

Obviously I need to head back to the dictionary, because apparently I don't understand the definition of "universally". Their website does have an extremely interesting point/counter point section. For those who wish to challenge (or confirm) what they believe on this issue, take a look.

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