Thursday, April 21, 2005

If Reality Doesn't Fit Our Prejudices, We Will Make It

One of the more frequently used arguments against the legalization of gay marriage, or rather for making it illegal (in some cases, two times over), is that marriage is about families. More specifically, marriage is about raising children. The argument assumes that gay and lesbian couples cannot have children, and therefore they shouldn't be allowed to marry. Of course, this assumption is obviously false. While gay and lesbian couples cannot have children without help, they can and often do have children with a little help, through artificial insemination, surrogacy, or adoption. This is clearly a problem for what is, for many, the main argument against gay marriage. It just doesn't accord with reality.

Fortunately for gay marriage opponents, there is a little thing called the Texas state legislature. Never a group to be dissuaded by reality, the Republican-dominated legislature of that great state decided to change it so that their argument against gay marriage will work. And, as it turns out, altering reality to fit their prejudices just isn't that difficult. You see, in Texas, Child Protective Services are in shambles, and virtually everyone in the government agrees that it needs to be overhauled. So, a very popular bill designed to do just that is making its way through the legislature. A version of the bill passed in the Senate last week, and this week, it was the House's turn. Knowing that it would be politically impossible for Democrats, much less moderate Republicans, to vote against the bill, Rep. Robert Talton (R-Pasadena) decided to tack on an amendment (which passed 81-58, with voting largely along party lines) that would require CPS to ask all prospective foster parents whether they are gay or lesbian, and deny the requests of all those who answer yes. In addition, the amendment requires CPS to remove any foster children who are currently in gay or lesbian households. Talton had tried, and failed, to pass similar measures on two previous occasions, but now that it was part of a bill that no one in his or her right mind would vote against, he couldn't fail. And he didn't. The CPS reform bill passed by a vote of 135-6.

The bill now heads to the Senate. If it passes there, and there's no reason to think that it won't, Texas Republicans will have set in motion the forces needed to change reality so that they can still argue that their attempts to ban gay marriage are based on the fact that gay and lesbian couples don't raise children. One wonders what will be next. If foster parenting and adoption are out of the picture, will Texas Republicans concentrate on requiring that couples be straight in order to use artificial fertilization or surrogacy? What about gay and lesbian couples who already have children? Will they be forced to give them up? That seems extreme, but the fact that CPS is required to remove foster children from gay and lesbian households may be a foreshadowing of such measures.


Dan Navarro said...

That's just dumb. I've not the words. But the total disconnect with reality does remind me of this unbearably stupid study.

Dave Munger said...

Not only is the Texas move monumentally annoying as a ploy to eliminate one possible argument against gay marriage, I also think it does tremendous damage to the foster parenting/adoption situation in the state. Wouldn't gay couples, by virtue of their relative lack of procreative options, be ideal candidates for foster parenthood?

I wonder if there are any statistics on relative numbers of gay/straight foster parents. It seems to me there might be a disproportionately large number of gay foster parents.

Clark Goble said...

I hate riders that are unrelated to the main theme of a bill. I've long hated them and wish there was something to do to get rid of them. They are abused by both parties and worse are often used to add pork that could never get justified on its own.

I'm all for the kind of compromises that make it into a bill. But make it at least related to the point of the bill.

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