In what is now a string of cases decided by federal judges regarding state laws, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia has struck down Texas’ constitutional amendment defining marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman. After the state legislature presented the amendment in 2005, 76% of Texas voters approved the addition of the amendment to the state constitution.
Judge Garcia immediately stayed his ruling pending an inevitable appeal. This should be quite interesting considering that the man who will be responsible for the appeal, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, is the hands-down favorite to receive the Republican nomination for governor. Abbott will be responsible for filing the appeal while also managing his campaign against likely Democratic nominee Wendy Davis.
This case came about when a lesbian couple filed suit against the state for not recognizing their same-sex marriage performed in Massachusetts in 2009. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram article, the plaintiffs “argued that the state’s gay marriage ban had caused them undue hardship that other married couples do not face. For example, the couple have one child together, but because Texas does not recognize their union, only one parent’s name was allowed on the birth certificate.”
The logic of the names on a birth certificate is quite interesting. Biologically speaking, only one of the women is the mother although it is likely they both wanted to be listed as mothers. This demonstrates how the redefinition of marriage is attempting to separate the relationship completely from any aspect of procreation. Assuming the couple used an anonymous sperm donor as the father, then standard procedure would be to list the woman who gave birth as the mother. A second mother is biologically impossible for the purposes of a birth certificate. It is unclear how this causes undue hardship related to a medical record that is intended to connect a child to his/her biological parents.
While marriage does not require procreation, separating marriage and procreation completely is illogical. Melissa Moschella has recently written that children have a right to know who their biological parents are and a right to a relationship with them. She states:
The biological parent-child relationship is uniquely intimate and comprehensive, at least from the child’s perspective. A child’s relationship to his biological parents is the closest of that child’s human relationships. It is identity-determining. To be born of different parents is to be an entirely different person. This, combined with the observation that receiving proper care is crucial for the child’s current and future well-being, implies that biological parents are the ones with the strongest obligation to ensure that their child is well-cared-for.
When someone makes the claim that they have a right to produce a birth certificate containing two mothers and no father as the biological record of the child’s birth, they undermine the right of the child to know his genetic history. If marriage includes unions other than those between a man and a woman, it undermines the creation ordinance designed to be the avenue of procreation and perpetuation of the human race. This is not an undue hardship placed on the couple by the state. It is Biology 101.
In just the last two months, marriage amendments have been overturned by judicial action in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Texas. Seventeen other states allow same-sex marriage (or are in the process of allowing it). In addition, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder just recently told state attorneys general that they are not obligated to defend traditional marriage laws in court if they do not want to do so.
I tell my classes every semester that our children will grow up with a different understanding of marriage than what we have. I have been fighting and praying that we would be able to stave off the redefinition of marriage. Now it seems that the U.S. Supreme Court will have no choice but to hear these cases and rule on them, potentially providing a new definition of marriage.
Honestly, I am not optimistic about any future SCOTUS rulings; however, we do not place our hope in judges, governors, legislators, or presidents. Instead, our hope is in Jesus Christ, and he has already declared:
Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate. (Matthew 19:4-6)
*If you are interested in learning more about how to respond to the campaign to redefine marriage, consider attending the It Takes a Family conference on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, co-hosted by the Ruth Institute and the Land Center for Cultural Engagement, on April 11, 2014. More information and registration is available by clicking here.
Edgar Walters, “Federal judge rules Texas’ gay marriage ban unconstitutional,” Star-Telegram, February 26, 2014.
Melissa Moschella, “The Rights of Children: Biology Matters,” The Public Discourse, February 20, 2014.