Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Way We Were: Maggie vs. DOMA!

This week the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing debating the repeal of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) with RMA, the Respect for Marriage Act.  However, proponents of marriage discrimination (such as Maggie Gallagher [PDF] - in a Congressional statement, no less! - and Brian Brown) have frequently been fond of saying that DOMA, when it was initially signed into law in 1996 was passed "with overwhelming bipartisan support, it laid out clear reasons why marriage deserves legal protection"...  The principal reason that NOM-affiliates have given for this requisite "legal protection" is an alleged state-interest in so-called "responsible procreation".  One of the rather early court cases they cite is a New Jersey case involving one Lord Penzance; NOM writes:
Lord Penzance has observed that the procreation of children is one of the ends of marriage. I do not hesitate to say that it is the most important object of matrimony, for without it the human race itself would perish from the earth.
However, it must be understood, at the outset, that this "observation" occurred during an age when Coventry-based marriages were legally enforced and women had virtually no legal autonomy of their own of which to speak; indeed, this case involved a spouse who was suing his wife for expenses and a divorce when he discovered that she had withheld the fact that she was barren from him and could not produce for him an heir.  Instead, his evidently wanted out of the marriage so he could find a wife that could conceive for him a son.  She was ultimately found guilty of Fraud!  The citation that NOM seems to be quoting verbatim (Atlantic reporter, vol. 113, pp. 710) continues to rather chilling ends (I here by charge NOM guilty of academic slight of hand by engaging in a known Logical Fallacy by the name of "the sin of omission"):
Some women are congenitally, and others traumatically, barren.  The former may never discover the fact until after a fruitless marriage.  But, when a woman knows that she has been made barren by a surgical operation she is under a legal duty to disclose the fact to an intended husband, so that, if he then marries her, he will be consenting to the situation that will naturally frustrate his hope of posterity, and he will not be heard to repudiate the marriage, which his conduct had rendered unavoidable, although if his knowledge had been acquired subsequent to the ceremony he could have avoided it.
Professor of Family History (Evergreen State College), Dr. Stephanie Coontz, illustrates this legal principle saliently when she writes:
"The wife...was legally responsible for providing services in and around the home, but she had no comparable rights to such services.  That is why a husband could sue for loss of consortium if his spouse were killed or incapacitated, but a wife in the same situation could not.  And, because sex was one of the services expected of a wife, she could not charge her husband with rape".
However, getting back on topic, let's go to the tape and see, precisely, what Maggie and Brian's "overwhelming bipartisan support" looked like, as well as their "clear reasons why marriage deserves legal protection"!

Viscous, wasn't it!  That is something else that NOM will never comp to, the strikingly viscous and homophobic nature of this "overwhelming bipartisan support"!  And, you will also observe, if you can stomach to watch the above clip, one Sen. David Funderburk (R-North Carolina) had the audacity to quote the Family Research Council (a SPLC-designated anti-Gay hate group) when he testified that, "homosexuality has been discouraged in all cultures, because it is inherently wrong and harmful to individuals, families, and societies"!  This is a bold-faced lie based upon nothing more than wishful thinking.  (And, do not for one moment forget that this is what Maggie Gallagher and Brian Browne are referring to when they speak of "overwhelming bipartisan support", as if it met some sort of a positive state-interests other than viscous bigotry and anti-Gay animus!)  In order to counter this anti-historical meme from so-called "family" and "traditional marriage" organizations, the American Anthropological Association - the largest such organization of professional scholars in the world - released a policy statement in 2004 condemning any attempt at banning Gay couples from legal civil marriage in a consensus based upon not only more than 100 years of consistent field work and reports, but several thousands of years of documented and sustainable history:
The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies. 
The Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association strongly opposes a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.
--Statement on Marriage and the Family

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