11 Attorneys General Sign Federal Appeals Court Brief Defending ‘Natural’ Marriage

Eleven attorneys general have signed a brief submitted to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals defending Nevada's ban on same-sex marriage, the Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Nevada"If public affirmation of anyone and everyone’s personal love and commitment is the single purpose of civil marriage, a limitless number of rights claims could be set up that evacuate the term ‘marriage’ of any meaning," the attorneys general said in a newly filed amicus brief in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

And once "natural limits" are gone, "it follows that any group of adults would have an equal claim to marriage," the attorneys general said.

The officials who signed the document are from Nevada, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma,  South Carolina, and Utah.

The attorneys general say 33 states adhere to a "historical" definition of marriage, which predates the nation’s founding and is centered on procreation, that limits access to the civil institution to one man and one woman.

"The theory of traditional civil marriage, that is, turns on the unique qualities of the male-female couple for procreating and rearing children under optimal circumstances," they argue. "As such, it not only reflects and maintains deep-rooted traditions of our nation, but also furthers the public policy of encouraging biological parents to stay together for the sake of the children produced by their sexual union."

Civil marriage "channels" sexual desires into stable unions, they said, and has a core purpose of "ameliorating the frequent consequences of heterosexual intercourse, namely the unintended issuance of children."

More at the Salt Lake Tribune


  1. Keith says

    Didn’t this argument already fail even at the most basic rational basis in court case after court case? Have these AG’s learned nothing in law school about legal precedence?

  2. UmYeah says

    And, as such, under this classification of ‘traditional marriage’, a man and a woman can only get married if they can have children. This would presume that they are of childbearing years.

    Lets take this further. Married couples MUST have offspring that carry both sets of parental genes. People cannot get married and then adopt. Men and woman who cannot medically conceive cannot get married. Married couples must not use birth control (contraception) as they must have children in order to maintain their status as married couples. All pregnancies entered into by married couples must be carried to term and children raised by their biological parents. Should a couple desire a divorce and their children are not yet considered adults, these children will be placed into the hands of other married couples with children and these children will be classified as ‘placed’. Once an adult has entered into a ‘divorced’ state they will not be entitled to become married again…

    This whole ‘definition of marriage’ business is absurd. Nobody will ever fully agree to a singular definition and the argument will continue ad nauseum. Nobody has the right to define the concept of two people, who love each other, making a commitment to spend the rest of their lives together and to support each other in the process. What about the couples that choose not to have children? What about couples that are unable to have children due to one reason or another?

    Nobody owns the word marriage.

  3. woody says

    And, once again, they have repeated the same fatal flaw: they have not shown that letting gay couples marry has any effect whatsoever on straight people’s marriages.

  4. anon says

    The legal problem with slippery slope arguments is that it assumes that anyone that makes any case for their wacky marriage proposal (say to a desk or a tree or something) will get a pass by the courts when the courts could enact all sorts of legitimate interest arguments against such arrangements. It’s not a one-way street if you let gay marriage through.

  5. JackFknTwist says

    And where is the merit in ‘adhering’ to any historical definition if it can be shown to be;
    [a] discriminatory against a class of citizens;
    [b] inherently no more than a definition;
    [c] being only ‘traditional’ it has no presumption of exclusive legal validity;
    [c] in itself is inherently of dubious merit in that ‘traditional marriage’ couples do not stay together;
    [d] if it is ‘traditional’ it has no standing as against a constitutional right to equality;
    [e] can be demonstrably proved not to include procreation for many couples as asserted by the traditionalists;
    [f] adversely deprives a class of citizens of a civil right;
    [g] sacrifices rights of individuals to an inherently religious biased definition;
    [h] to have no civil, social or economic detriment to ‘traditional marriage’ couples where such traditional definition is overturned.
    Of course the real reason behind all the opposition to our rights is bigotry; and all the intellectual posturing of dumb lawyers cannot disguise the medieval heaven/hell/bible thumping/ sterile/ frigidity of these fools. These are vicious malevolent tools……I’m glad that they will be opposed at every turn.

  6. jeff says

    The church thinks they own the definition of Marriage. All marriages must result in pregnancy and the resulting children must be raised in the Church(doesn’t matter what church we are talking about, they all have the same goal/requirement). You see, they can no longer count on or even believe in winning souls for their church, they want REPRODUCTION resulting in ready-made church goers/tithers.

  7. bkmn says

    If this is the supposed reason for marriage why is it NOT in any state’s laws about marriage? This reasoning is not even in any of the state marriage amendments.

    The rationale that marriage is required to raise children disregards all the other parenting scenarios out there – single mother, single father, adoptive parent(s), and any number of other scenarios.

    If these bozos were so concerned about marriage they would outlaw divorce.

  8. TKinSC says

    So can a man marry his brother in Massachusetts? If not, why not? In particular, what state interest could possibly justify denying a couple’s right to spend the rest of their lives together in a loving, legally-recognized commitment just because they happen to share the same parents?

  9. Randy says

    So: slippery slope, tradition, and accidental children?

    Yep… these are the same old failed arguments.

    By the way, if they’re going to claim tradition, to “[predate] the nation’s founding” then they must admit that in some times and in some parts of the world (and possibly some aboriginal inhabitants of this land), same-sex marriage was recognized… even in Christianity. I think it was Dr. Nancy Cott who told us this in the Prop 8 trial.

  10. SpaceCadet says

    Same tired arguments which is why they will lose. Not every heterosexual union is for the purpose of having children. Many straight couples have no such desire. And what do children have to do with getting married anyway? It’s simply a commitment between two adult individuals. Their arguments are also a slap in the face to adopted kids and their parents. As if somehow they are less “natural” because these kids weren’t biological offspring of the parents who adopted them. Polygamous marriages also predates the founding of the U.S. Doesn’t it also adhere to a “historical” definition of marriage?

  11. rroberts says

    “…it follows that any group of adults would have an equal claim to marriage,” the attorneys general said.

    And the problem with that would be…??
    The only ‘problem’ would be state and government paperwork.
    Too bad so many of these people don’t know of or don’t remember the hippie movement and notions regarding Free Love, the communes, etc. – and that was a mere 50 years ago.

  12. Nick says

    Poppycock and balderdash, they’re saying we can’t have any rights because if we did then heterosexuals couldn’t behave themselves. That, if it were even remotely true, would be a problem inherent in heterosexuality; why should we need be the whipping boy for their perceived propensity to transgress?

  13. ToThePoint says

    Based on these bigots argument, marriage should be denied to any couple unable to procreate. No remarriage for older folks after losing a spouse or divorcing. Once a man receives a vasectomy, he must divorce since he can no longer procreate. And lets not forget those who are or become sterile due to natural (god’s plan) reasons. They will say anything to deny equality without thinking all circumstances through. At least 50% of these a**holes making the argument no longer qualify for marriage based on their own criteria but somehow they will be immune to it. Bigotry, plain and simple.

  14. Bobby F. says

    Do those states disallow marriage to any couple who cannot have children because the female is too old or either spouse is sterile (naturally or by medical procedure)? If so, they are violating their bigoted reasoning.

  15. says

    Keith nailed it right out of the box: how come these AGs aren’t aware that this argument has never won in court? Shouldn’t they maybe look at court cases on this issue? Or just pull arguments out of their nether regions?

  16. Michael says

    Weird. I always thought marriage was about love and commitment.

    Odd how it became about “the children” once the gays wanted in on it.

    And, yeah, this ain’t holding up in any court of law.

  17. johnny says

    The oddest thing about this particular stance is the fact that regardless if gays are given the same right to marriage as heteros, it won’t stop the heteros from having affairs on the side, being on the downlow with same sexes, getting pregnant by someone other than their spouse and on and on.

    It’s as if they believe that by withholding marriage to gays, it somehow magically keeps all heteros pure and honorable (and the minute they give it to us, all hell will break loose).

    I’m certain we ALL know that’s not the case, including these asinine AGs.


  18. Geoff says

    “natural marriage”? What an oxymoron. There’s nothing natural about it – as about 50% of ’em fail anyway. It’s as an unnatural a construct as mankind has yet come up with.

  19. says

    Of course their arguments are illogical. Of course heteros are not held to the same standards. That seems perfectly fine to those speaking from a long held position of heteronormative privilege where subjective opinions and ignorance can be offered up without one bit of evidence to back up any of the predictions of doom. What credentials did these AG’s show that would give their opinions credence in a court of law?

    These AG’s apparently don’t see or don’t care that what they’ve signed onto here lambasting non traditional families also includes single parent, grandparent, or adoptive families.

    More than one third of American children are born out of wedlock. ALL of the foster and wards of the state children are from heterosexual parents. ALL of the homeless children are from hetero parents. And yet homosexual couples that make extraordinary efforts to have their own children or adopt the unwanted, neglected, or abandoned children of hetero parents are blamed for the ‘potential’ demise of ‘traditional family’. You hate to think that 13 states have AG’s that ignorant or heartless and yet here they are.

    One thing I can guarantee you for certain is that not one of those AG’s have the first clue about the hardships same gender parents have to go through and yet our children do as well or better than children raised by opposite gender parents in spite of those hardships.

  20. JJ says

    Civil marriage…has a core purpose of “ameliorating the…unintended issuance of children.” …[O]nce “natural limits” are gone, “it follows that any group of adults would have an equal claim to marriage,” the attorneys general said.

    People can and do procreate multiple times with any number of partners, so the limit of two certainly doesn’t follow from biology. It doesn’t follow, then, that removing biology as a factor would remove the limit of two. One does not depend on the other. The limit of two is there for some other reason, and it’s unrelated and irrelevant to marriage equality.

  21. GregV says

    The state of Virginia threatened interracial couples with 10 years in prison until 1967, arguing against the Lovings that “natural” marriage predated the modern ability to travel and required 2 people from the same continent.

    That argument, which in many ways similar to this one, failed in 1967. And just like allowing people with ancestors from two continents to marry does NOT mean that now “any group” can have a marriage license,, neither does allowing marriage to same-sex couples imply such a thing.

    Every leading scientific organization in the civilized world disagrees with the notion (and it is nothing but a notion) that every kid is best off with two biological parents.
    Furthermore, the implication is that a kid who is living with one gay biological parent and one non-bio parent is required by law, if these dingbats have their way, to have unmarried parents. It’s as if they desire to keep stigma alive against such kids so they can be seen as good old-fashioned “bastards.” The idea that this is somehow being done “for the children” is idiocy.

  22. Bill says

    @homer : having an adulterous affair is more traditional than many would like to admit. Read up on Pope Alexander VI (one of the Borgias), and that is just the tip of tip of the iceberg.

    It’s like what the ambassador said in Doctor Stranglove as they desperately try to contact the Russian premier, who is spending the night with his mistress: “He may be a man of the people, but his is still a man.”

  23. Howard B says

    Interesting that they only got 11 attorney’s general to sign on to this. I would have thought the number to be much higher! I think that says a lot for how progress our side has made.

  24. says

    America’s Attorney General Under(Ha!)Reagan,Ed Meese was a bigot and after leaving office supported the Boy Scouts anti-gay policy. Sadly, the Republican Party has been taken over by the extreme right and the only way we can fight back is to vote them out of office. I’m 77 years old and have seen first hand the progress we have made in the gay rights movement… sadly at a snail’s pace too long. However, so far in the 21st century we are on track towards equal rights… we still have a way to go. So do not leave your guard down and appreciate politicians who have joined our fight,as well as support companies and states who treat us equally.

  25. says

    They keep rehashing the same “arguments” about “traditional marriage” because that’s all they’ve got — there’s no rational case for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage and they know it, so they just keep filing the same briefs over and over again.

    Must be seriously depressing.

  26. Gregory in Seattle says

    On the upside, the bigots are evolving on the definition of marriage: they know that if they called it “Biblical” marriage, people will laugh and ask them about polygamy, levirite marriage, concubinage, marriage by right of kidnapping as a prize of war, and all the other ways that marriage is allowed in the Bible.

  27. Profe Sancho Panza says

    ‘The attorneys general say 33 states adhere to a “historical” definition of marriage, which predates the nation’s founding’- this is interesting precisely because they’re trying to trump the Constitution with this argument.

  28. jamal49 says

    @JACKFKNTWIST and @UMYEAH two of the best commentaries I’ve ever read about the fallacies in the arguments by right-wing homophobes against marriage equality. Copy-worthy and quote-worthy. Thank you.

  29. verbocityeric says

    The cornerstone of the conservative movement is its acceptance of received knowledge as the only truth. If the bible or ronald reagan says so, it is incontrivertible. No amount of evidence of logic will make them abandon it. That is why they keep using the same failed arguments.

    The action of these 11 AGs also points out how the fight for marriage equality is similar to the civil rights movement–the enemies use the same tactics: tradition and fear. They use dishonestly gotten legislative majorities to enact laws enshrining their bigotry.

    In the 1960s southern governors and AGs called for nullification to protect “southern culture” and because allowing the races to mix would lead to all white women marrying black men. So today red state ‘lawmakers’ invoke nullification because same sex marriage will destabilize mixed sex unions, deny children loving, committed parents and eventually the end of the human race when men marry only each other.

Leave A Reply