October 22, 2013
When I was in college, I took a debate class. It was required for all journalism majors and there was one professor every student tried to avoid: Dr. Drikes.
He was notoriously tough and bragged he gave out more F’s than A’s. He was a former judge and expected us to argue like seasoned trial lawyers rather than the hungover 20-year-olds we were. But while he had a reputation for being demanding, he was actually most famous for his frequent outbursts in the middle of a student debate. Everyone on campus, even the math majors, knew his signature sentence: "Your logic is moronic!"
He shouted this line frequently, and if you happened to be presenting your case when he did, you were one of the students getting an F.
In his defense, Dr. Drikes felt like he’d invested five months helping us develop reasoned, thoughtful and cohesive arguments. And when someone tried to plead a case using weak excuses and personal convictions instead of facts and evidence like he taught us, he got frustrated. After slamming his fists on his desk and shaking his head, he’d scream: "Your logic is moronic!"
I can only assume the lawyers for the state of Utah never took a debate class from Dr. Drikes. Because if they had, surely their reasoning for defending the state’s ban on gay marriage would be less moronic.
When the Supreme Court deemed the key parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in June, it paved the way for gay couples across the country to enjoy the same federal rights and benefits as opposite-sex married couples. It also paved the way for a lawsuit recently filed by three same-sex couples against the state of Utah, claiming the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
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The outcome of this lawsuit is for a judge to decide. But as far as the state’s argument for upholding the ban, I can only say, the logic is moronic.
The lawyers defending the state claim: "Same-sex couples, who cannot procreate, do not promote the state’s interest in responsible procreation." They also argue marriage between a man and a woman is the "optimal mode of child-rearing."
Well, I’m no lawyer, but I would argue the 24-year old woman who was yapping on her cell phone as she wondered aimlessly around Costco this weekend, paying zero attention to her six screaming kids as they snatched all the free samples, wiped their sticky, grimy hands on a pile of discounted blankets, chased each other all over the store with the oversized carts, and generally behaved like rabid baboons, probably isn’t promoting "responsible procreation" either.
And then there’s this whole "optimal mode of child-rearing" argument. Have these lawyers never heard of Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan? They were all "optimally" raised by a man and a woman, proving, if nothing else, gay people don’t corner the market on screwed-up kids.
But aside from these pesky real-life examples disproving the state’s claims, there’s also the massive hypocrisy to consider.
The lawyers argue "responsible procreation" is fundamental to Utah’s way of life, and reproduction is essential to our "child-centric" culture. And if that’s their argument, then logically, a whole bunch of other people should also be denied the right to marry. Me, for example.
I don’t want kids. So, according to the state’s argument, because I have no intention of promoting Utah’s interest in procreating, it’s perfectly acceptable to ban me from getting married. Well, that will save my boyfriend two month’s salary one day.
But despite the state’s argument, I’d never heard I could be denied a marriage license simply because I don’t want a small fry or tater tot of my own. So I called the county clerk’s office to clarify this whole "responsible procreation" and "optimal child rearing" thing.
First, I asked if there was a box somewhere on the marriage certificate where I would need to check my intentions to breed. "No, of course not," the receptionist told me.
Perplexed by this I asked, "What about an age limit. Can a 65 year-old woman get married?"
"There is no age limit," she responded.
"Before applying for a marriage license, does someone have to prove they haven’t reached menopause or had a vasectomy?"
Sighing heavily, she responded, "No. There are no requirements to have children in order to get married in Utah."
So my next question was obviously, "Do the lawyers know that?"
During this conversation, I also learned you don’t have to prove you know how to optimally raise a child to get married. You can be a drug dealer, a prostitute or a redneck who pushes over ancient rock formations in a state park. There is no pre-marital child-rearing test given out by the state.
And get this: In Utah, first cousins are allowed to marry, so long as both parties are over the age of 55 and can prove they are unable to reproduce.
So while state lawyers argue same-sex couples cannot get married specifically because they don’t contribute to the state’s interest in procreation, it’s perfectly acceptable to marry your opposite-sex cousin as long as you don’t have children.
Anyone else think that logic is moronic?
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.