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Reinstating Minnesota For Marriage's forcibly stripped context

by Jeremy Hooper

About fifty seconds into the latest "Marriage Minute" video, Minnesota For Marriage's Kalley Yanta proudly declares that the U.S. Supreme Court has found marriage to be "fundamental to the very existence and survival of the [human] race:

Screen Shot 2012-02-01 At 2.39.54 Pm

So since Minnesota For Marriage continues to use this canard of a case, I will again point out the flaws. Let's get started.

(1) This claim comes from 1942's SKINNER V. OKLAHOMA decision. Yes, you read that correctly: 1942. As in nearly seven decades ago. As in the time in American history when marriage was still limited in other unfair ways that SCOTUS had yet to remedy. As in a time so different from now that a concurring judge actually uses the word "imbecile" in his opinion.

(2) Skinner V. Oklahoma concerned sterilization, namely its use to punish those who had been multiply convicted of "felonies involving moral turpitude." So the key point here was, absolutely, procreation and, specifically, the forcible removable of one's procreative ability. Unlike modern marriage cases, where same-sex couples' legal recognition has no realistic bearing on anyone's choice to reproduce, the Skinner matter was 100% focused on this ability. Thus the reason for mentioning human race's survival.

(3) Marriage is mentioned exactly one time in the decision, in the context mentioned below:

Screen Shot 2011-08-23 At 12.22.13 Pm
SOURCE: Skinner [Justia]

Yes, it's true that procreation, in 1942, was almost always linked in the minds of the population to the concept of marriage, as well as in policies that pretty much demanded it be. But that is the only reason why marriage is even mentioned in this case at all: To speak to the procreation component. This was not a case that dealt with marriage policy itself, nor was it a case that considered procreative realities in the way we can and do today.

(4) Ironically, Skinner v. Oklahoma contained a major 14th Amendment/Equal Protection component (as teased in the above snippet) which speaks much more to our side today than it does to our opposition's discriminatory cause. A big concern, then as in now, was whether the state could arbitrarily discriminate against certain kinds of citizens:

Screen Shot 2011-08-23 At 12.23.14 Pm
SOURCE: Skinner [Justia]

Sure, this was talking about the unequal application of offense rather than the unequal application of a public good like marriage. But as the prescient court noted: Any sort of tiered system has the possibility of being "as invidious a discrimination as if it had selected a particular race or nationality for oppressive treatment." I'm pretty sure that if I was part of a group pushing oppressive treatment of gay citizens who seek equal citizenship, I'd be hesitant about reminding anyone of such Fourteenth Amendment rationale!

(5) In the subsequent years, any number of cases have both confirmed marriage's unique role in society and accepted the inadequacies of past limitations applied to the subject. Modern opinions have also remedied the shortsighted outlooks that had shown disregard for certain citizens' wellbeing -- including LGBT people. If we are to glean takeaways from this 1942 opinion (and I have no problem with that, as far as it goes), then we [a] must look at the context, [b] consider the times, and [c] examine the massive developments that have come after.

(6) Minnesota For Marriage doesn't want you to consider any of this. They simply found one, seventy-year-old line in their court searches and think they can use it to somehow position same-sex couples -- which already exist, marriage or not -- as somehow threatening to the survival of our overpopulated world.

Okay, now that out of the way, you're free to go watch the full video and learn al of the other host of horribles we are supposedly bringing, or the supposed benefits we are denying, to our lives, families, and shared society at large:

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