In support of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s efforts to reinstate the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, more than 60 Texas lawmakers signed an amicus brief Monday arguing that recognition of gay marriage could lead to the legalization of incest, pedophilia and polygamy.
Filed with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 63 members of the Texas Conservative Coalition, the state legislature’s conservative caucus, advanced the notion that legalizing same-sex marriage could provide legal justification for the recognition of various moral taboos, including incest and pedophilia.
“The district court broadened the definition of the ‘existing right to marry’ as one that includes the right of people to ‘select the partners of their choosing’ for marriage, without regard to sex,” the brief contends. “If the right to select ‘partners of their choosing’ is the criterion used to invoke marriage as a fundamental right, then marriage restrictions on age, polygamy, and consanguinity are also ripe for challenge.”
As first reported by Lone Star Q, signatories include the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Dan Patrick, Texas House Speaker Pro Tempore Dennis Bonnen (R) and state Sen. Ken Paxton, the Republican nominee for attorney general.
To view the full list of the 63 lawmakers who signed the brief, see here.
“Another ground cited by supporters of Texas’s marriage laws and subsequently dismissed by the district court is that recognition of same-sex marriage ‘could lead to the recognition of bigamy, incest, pedophilia, and group marriage,’” the brief continued. “As already discussed in this brief, restrictions on marriage relating to these moral considerations remain valid. Thus, the goal of actively trying to prevent those practices from becoming valid is entirely rational public policy."
While the Republican lawmakers concede that “recognition of pedophilia or other morally reprehensible actions” may not actually be the “logical next step” following marriage equality, they maintain that legislators enacted Texas’ marriage laws "with the intention of supporting marriage arrangements that they believe support valid goals related to those concerns.”
The friend-of-court brief comes one week after Abbott’s office filed an appellants brief urging the appeals court to reverse U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia’s February decision, which deemed the state's same-sex marriage ban in violation of the 14th Amendment’s due-process and equal-protection clauses.
"Texas’ current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason," Garcia wrote in the DeLeon v. Perry decision, which has been stayed pending Abbot’s appeal.
In a 42-page appeal, Abbott argued that the state’s same-sex marriage ban promotes "stable, lasting relationships" for child-rearing and insisted that the issue be decided by voters and state lawmakers instead of the courts.
“Texas’s marriage laws are rooted in a basic reality of human life: procreation requires a male and a female. Two people of the same sex cannot, by themselves, procreate,” Abbott's brief, which is also backed by the Texas Roman Catholic Bishops and the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, states. “The State’s recognition and encouragement of opposite-sex marriages increases the likelihood that naturally procreative couples will produce children, and that they will do so in the context of stable, lasting relationships.”
Echoing the state's reasoning, Monday’s brief from the Texas Conservative Coalition argued that defining marriage exclusively between one man and one woman “gives women and children the surest protection against poverty and abuse,” and “provides for healthy psychological development of children.”
“There is a wide range of literature supporting this view, particularly with regard to child development, making it plausible and, thus, rational for legislators to believe,” the brief continues, citing widely debunked research from Mark Regnerus.
While 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, Midwest states are facing a litany of lawsuits from same-sex couples seeking marriage rights. Nationwide, more than 75 lawsuits challenging bans on same-sex unions are pending in 32 states.
Since December, courts across the country have ruled in favor of marriage equality in 29 cases, all of which are now on appeal.
(h/t Lone Star Q)