Can Playing with the Fire of Marriage Get You Burned?

BlogHer Original Post

Last week, when the Minister of Health in Japan referred to women as birthing-machines and devices, I wondered where that left those of us who are “broken” models. Now, thanks to a group of advocates supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington, we have a very provocative potential answer. It seems that a July 2006 ruling on whether same-sex marriage is constitutionally bannable in Washington State hinged on whether the state had a legitimate interest in only permitting couples who can have and raise children together to get married. The court concluded that only a man and woman could do this, thus upheld a ban on gay/lesbian marriage. Red flags are raised.

According to a report on King 5 News, the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance, formed in response to the court ruling, filed an initiative that would “require heterosexual couples to have kids within three years or else have their marriage annulled.” Here’s how the Alliance explains their actions:

...using the initiative, we are working to put the Court’s ruling into law. We will do this through three initiatives. 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.

Absurd? Very. But there is a rational basis for this absurdity. By floating the initiatives, we hope to prompt discussion about the many misguided assumptions which make up the Andersen ruling. By getting the initiatives passed, we hope the Supreme Court will strike them down as unconstitutional and thus weaken Andersen itself. And at the very least, it should be good fun to see the social conservatives who have long screamed that marriage exists for the sole purpose of procreation be forced to choke on their own rhetoric.

It’s certainly an interesting tactic that is generating much attention and discussion.

Some bloggers (myself included) didn’t understand the point at first. Others get it all too well. A quick sample finds that reaction breaks down along fairly predictable lines. Amy at Real Catholic is not amused. Salty Femme thinks it is brilliant and supports the action. Pam at Pandagon is also pleased by the table-turning scenario.

Once I re-read an email from BlogHer Contributing Editor Chantel Williams about this protest and realized what was at stake, I was intrigued, but also worried. I always like the make-the-hypocrites-live-their-own-suggestions route and subversive cleverness, but will the social conservatives really choke on their own rhetoricthis is the type of thing that backfires most unfortunately. This is the type of action that often backfires most unfortunately. (No, I don’t trust “the people” to get it. I have learned the hard way that “the people” disappoint me more often than not.) While the publicity is great, I also would not like to have my marriage at risk of annulment any time soon.

What do you think? Is this a good way to show the absurdity of the “sanctity of marriage” excuse for blatant discrimination, or a dangerous turn down a slippery slope?

Suzanne also tries hard to be subversively clever at her blog Campaign for Unshaved Snatch (CUSS) & Other Rants

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