Michigan Attorney General: Gay Marriage Ban is There to ‘Regulate Sexual Relations’ and Procreation

For about a year we've been reporting on April DeBoer and Jayne Rose, a Michigan couple who are challenging the state's ban on gay adoption and same-sex marriage. In July, a judge ruled that the couple could proceed with their case.

LmcThe Huffington Post points out a brief filed earlier this month by Attorney General Bill Schuette, who claims the state's definition of marriage is needed to "regulate sexual relationships" and their "unique procreative capacity":

Responsible procreation and childrearing are well-recognized as legitimate State interests served by marriage.

One of the paramount purposes of marriage in Michigan — and at least 37 other states that define marriage as a union between a man and a woman — is, and has always been, to regulate sexual relationships between men and women so that the unique procreative capacity of such relationships benefits rather than harms society. The understanding of marriage as a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the rearing of children born of their union, is age-old, universal, and enduring. As illustrated by a plethora of research, social scientists have consistently recognized the essential connection between marriage and responsible procreation and childrearing.

The case goes to trial in Detroit this fall.

Equality Michigan managing director Emily Dievendorf balks at Schuette's claim: Marriage is about more than just procreation, as the Supreme Court said this June, 'marriage is a way for couples to define themselves by their commitment to each other.' Suggesting the benefit of marriage is limited to just producing children is more insulting and damaging to the institution of marriage than anything Schuette fears."


  1. trees says

    If you live in Michigan be aware you cannot marry if you are sterile, impotent, past childbearing age or just do not want to procreate. And don’t ever use condoms or birth control pills if you are married and sexually active with each other. Michigan sounds like the old Roman Catholic Church.

  2. Michael Heynz says

    Good News heterosexual people who can’t or don’t want to have children: Republicans don’t want you to get married. But since you are straight, they’ll make an exception. You know, for the kids that you won’t be bearing.

  3. Jack M says

    Somebody needs to make sure Billy boy gets him some schoolin’. He’s about as sharp as a bowling ball.

  4. Michael says

    May I just point out wedding ceremonies say nothing about procreation and only talk about love and commitment???

  5. Tigerama says

    Is there some reason that heterosexuals seem to think that a woman’s body is an out of control rickshaw?

  6. Brian Killen says

    The AG is right. Controlling het. sex and child rearing is exactaly why the government got into marriage licensing after the revolutionary war. It is also why they prohibited mixed-race marriage and divorce. Read a Renagade History of the United States by Russell for more examples of the government’ attempts to control cultural exhuberance. It is a shocking book in many ways.

  7. oncemorewithfeeling says

    There is nothing in the law that says anything remotely like the AG is claiming. Nothing. No heterosexual couple in this country has ever been granted a marriage license based on their commitment to procreation. Not once, not ever. The AG is one sick man.

    And he’s making this absurd claim to deny marriage to a long-term committed couple with THREE CHILDREN.

    I defy him or anyone to make any sense of that.

  8. says

    The same basic argument was used in Arizona after the anti-gay marriage amendment passed. And the Supreme Court here agreed that marriage was for procreation.

    What was ironic was that our Democratic Attorney General at that time was trying to deliberately lose the case and chose the most outlandish argument possible.

  9. says

    In Russia Shuette would be a hero. Putin would be heralding his stellar defense for it’s logic and the good it would be doing society. Here he’s a man doing the best he can in a losing situation. The situations differ because in the US we’ve had decades of activism with the free flow of information and an open court system wherein we could refute these illogical arguments and show them to be the discrimination they really are. For all our effort we still have 37 US states where we haven’t achieved equality. And 76 countries globally where it’s still illegal to be LGBT. We’ve got a long way to go.

  10. Bill says

    @Michael: of course, talking about procreation makes a lot of people nervous, with protective moms covering over the ears of their children, so no wonder it is never mentioned in a wedding ceremony!

  11. Rexford says

    If that’s his case, then, as per usual, the government appears to be doing a horrible job at “regulation,” since a large percentage of couples end-up divorced and/or on their second or third marriage. And if it’s that important to the state, then one would think they’d at least take a lesson from the DMV and mandate that couples pass both a written test and a “road test” before they can get a marriage license.

  12. Matt says

    This is a crazy notion. Does he think that banning gay marriage will cause gay people to make babies with straight people?? Regulating marriage has very little to do with “regulating sexual relationships” in a way that promotes the procreative aspect of a relationship.

  13. Sean says

    Illegal and Unconstitutional. SCOTUS has ruled that the government is not allowed to regulate sexual relations between gay people. Also Whether gay couples get married or not they are not going to have sex with the opposite gender so still no natural procreation and the government doesn’t ban straight couples who cannot or choose not to procreate or raise children so the argument is moot – invalid.

  14. david from edmonton says

    What’s next? A license to have sex and government permission to have children? This is a scary concept but I’m not surprised, clearly republicans agenda is clear. Uptight puritanical loons.

  15. Bill says

    Curiously, the U.S. has a history of regulating sexual relations to control procreation. These laws, known as miscegenation laws, were particularly popular in states that had no problem with people marrying their cousins. I’ll refrain from speculating about cause and effect.

  16. Matt N says

    I think he needs to return to math class. There are not 37 ‘other’ states, as 13 already provide for marriage equality. And where does the ‘at least’ come from? LOL all around…

    I think ‘at most 36 other states’ would be more accurate.

  17. Dearcomrade says

    He actually put this is a brief filed with the court!

    This is a gift to the plaintiffs without doubt. Not sure about the Michigan Supreme Court, but SCOTUS will rule against Michigan if it goes that far.

  18. Jim says

    I take it that divorce is illegal in Michigan because divorce pretty much nullifies the idea of marriage as regulation of sexual relations and procreation when a divorce nullifies a marriage. What, say you, divorce is legal in Michigan!? But how then can the attorney general claim that the state has an interest in ensuring that procreative relationships benefit society via marriage when the state itself destroys those relationships by allowing divorce? How does one protect something by destroying it? Seems to me this is all highflautin’ and evasive lawyer talk deployed so as not to say something simple and blunt and candid: “We citizens of Michigan don’t want queers getting married and thinking that they’re just as good as normal folk because, by god, they’re not.” That’s it in a nutshell. Let’s hope the court cuts through the attorney general’s BS, gets to the truth, and upholds the principle of equality before the law.

  19. Jack33 says

    Michigan had so much hope at one point: being at the leading edge of unions/workers rights/addressing class inequality, and rather progressive.

    Now it’s turning into a low-value hick State, and as liberals continue to abandon it rather than fight, Michigan becomes redder by the day. Too bad coastal/Chicago/Austin/Denver folks can’t stage an invasion to politically terraform the State before it’s too late, and we lose yet-another State, making the congressional landscape all the redder. Sad.