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February 9, 2007

Marriage is for the kids? Okay, then require them


This ‘DOMA’ thumbs its nose at a ruling against same-sex vows

Olympia, Wash.--Last July, the Washington State Supreme Court upheld laws restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples, citing procreation as the foundation of marriage.

Advocates for same-sex marriage are taking the ruling one step further, gathering signatures for a ballot initiative to require that married couples have children.

The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance, whose DOMA initials are a play on “Defense of Marriage Act,” introduced Initiative 957, which would add the phrase “who are capable of having children with one another” to the state’s definition of marriage.

It would also require married couples to have children within three years or have their marriages automatically annulled.

Couples who were married in other states would have to file “proof of procreation” or their marriages would not be recognized in Washington, and it would be a “criminal act for people in an unrecognized marriage to receive marriage benefits.”

“Absurd? Very,” reads the Defense of Marriage Alliance’s website. “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 [marriage] ruling,” it continues.

“The way we are challenging Andersen is unusual: Using the initiative, we are working to put the court’s ruling into law,” it states.

According to the group, two more initiatives are coming. One would outlaw divorce or legal separation in a marriage with children, the other would make having children the equivalent of a marriage ceremony.

The initiative requiring procreation is the first out of the gate.

“For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation. The Washington Supreme Court echoed that claim in their lead ruling,” said organizer Gregory Gadow. “The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine.”

“If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they cannot have children together, it follows that all couples who cannot or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage,” he concluded. “And this is what the Defense of Marriage Initiative will do.”

Initiative 957 was submitted in January and approved by the secretary of state last week. DOMA must gather 224,800 signatures by July 6 for the issue to go on the November ballot.

If the petition drive is successful, it might end up next to another LGBT-related measure: Rev. Ken Hutcherson is collecting signatures for an initiative to repeal the state’s LGBT antidiscrimination law, passed last year.

While the procreation argument is often used against marriage rights for same-sex couples, there have been a few cases where judges rejected it.

The most notable of these, which cannot be used as a precedent in the United States, was Justice Louise Lemelin of Québec in a 2002 ruling.

“We don’t deny marriage to elderly women!” the 69-year-old jurist wrote.




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