As the tide seems to be turning in the national conversation on marriage equality states that passed laws to define marriage are finding that they are losing ground in both court and the court of public opinion.
Utah state attorneys are defending an amendment made to their constitution that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman on the grounds that it serves the state’s interest in “responsible procreation.” However, three same-sex couples are suing the state claiming the law is discriminatory and violates their rights.
Utah argues, in motions filed last Friday, that their marriage laws are not discriminatory and are designed to meet “a compelling government interest” and does not simply further a moral view that same-sex marriage is “wrong.” So, attorneys for the state of Utah are turning toward the tried-and-true claim that same-sex marriage does not further the government’s interests because they cannot procreate.
The state says that Utah is one of the most “child-centric” states in the nation and has the most marriages in the union. They argue, “Same-sex couples, who cannot procreate, do not promote the state’s interests in responsible procreation (regardless of whether they harm it).”
However, if children are the lynchpin of the state’s argument, they might find themselves on shaky ground. While it remains true that same-sex couples cannot biologically produce children together, that hasn’t stopped them from becoming parents. The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law studied census data earlier this year and determined that Salt Lake City has the highest rate of same-sex parents in the United States. They don’t have the largest gay community in the country, but according to a Utah resident, “it’s ingrained in our culture that family is important. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, you still want that.”