Michigan Attorney General Schuette: Marriage is for regulating sexual relationships to make babies

Vasectomies: Harming society since … wait. WHAT?!?

I have written in the past about Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, a Michigan couple who is suing the state to allow them, as a lesbian couple, to adopt each other’s children. When they brought their case before U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman, he encourage them to challenge Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages and, in July, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled decisively on California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, he agreed to hear their case.

Michigan Attorney General and tea party darling Bill Schuette has been on the front lines of this battle, defending the state’s discrimination against same-sex couples in the realm of marriage and adoption. His most recent salvo in this War on LGBTs was a brief filed in response to a motion for summary judgment in the Deboer v. Snyder and Schuette case. In his filing, Schuette defends the ban on same-sex marriage by contending that the state has a compelling interest in “regulating sexual relationships” in Michigan to make sure they result in babies.

I’m not kidding. From his brief (pdf) [emphasis mine]:

State Defendants are entitled to summary judgment for the following reason: an opposite-sex definition of marriage furthers State interests that would not be furthered, or furthered to the same degree, by allowing same-sex couples to marry. Plaintiffs and Defendant Brown wholly miss this fundamental point.

1. Responsible procreation and childrearing are well-recognized as legitimate State interests served by marriage.

One of the paramount purposes of marriage in Michigan — and at least 37 other states that define marriage as a union between a man and a woman — is, and always has been, to regulate sexual relationships between men and women so that the unique procreative capacity of such relationships benefits rather than harms society.

What he’s saying is that the State of Michigan needs to regulate sexual relationships to make sure we make babies using our “unique procreative capacity” (sexy talk!)

So, this begs the question about whether or not marriage between non-fertile “opposite-sex” couples should be permitted. For example, during my first marriage, after my son was born, I had a vasectomy. When I married Anne, I was not capable of impregnating her and it was understood that we would not have children together. I probably don’t need to tell you that this didn’t prevent us from having a sexual relationship.

Should I have been prohibited from marrying her? Because, according to Bill Schuette, my vasectomy is harming society.

What about women who have had tubal ligation or a hysterectomy? What about men or women who are infertile for some other reason? Post-menopausal women? Elderly people? Are these Michiganders now prohibited from marrying in our state because they do not possess that magical and unique “procreative capacity”?

In Michigan, you are no longer required to have a blood test in order to secure a marriage license. Does Bill Schuette intend to require a fertility test now before a marriage license will be issued?

What about this whole regulating sexual relationships thing? Are married men and women now prohibited from having intercourse if there is no chance for the woman to become pregnant?

This argument is absurd on its face. While the State may well wish to encourage couples to marry to promote having babies and to, as Schuette continues to argue in his brief, force them to stay together for the sake of the children, it is certainly not the ONLY reason the state hands out marriage licenses. If it was, there would clearly be far fewer of them given out.

Emily Dievendorf, Managing Director of Equality Michigan, released this no-holds-barred statement yesterday:


This absurd overreach is a desperate move by a man with too much power. Attorney General Schuette’s insistence on government in our personal lives is hypocritical, and in conflict with the Supreme Court of the United States. Ten years ago when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws, and this past summer when it ruled against DOMA, it found that regulating sex for the purpose of procreation is not a role for our government. Marriage is about more than just procreation, as the Supreme Court said this June, ‘marriage is a way for couples to define themselves by their commitment to each other.’ Suggesting the benefit of marriage is limited to just producing children is more insulting and damaging to the institution of marriage than anything Schuette fears. The notion that people who cannot, or choose not to, have children are not worthy of committing their life to another person is preposterous.

If it were not so harmful, it would be amusingly ironic that an attorney general whose party supports deregulation, smaller government is demanding this larger regulatory role for government in our daily lives. This brief also flies in the face of any family values platform. In the United States the share of unmarried couples has increased by 25% over the last decade and in 2012 there were 56,315 marriages and 39,892 divorces in Michigan – both statistics largely representing opposite-sex couples. If Attorney General Schuette wishes to preserve the institution of marriage, he should be allowing and encouraging both same and opposite-sex couples to opt in. The attorney general is fooling nobody on this most recent attempt to stop progress for LGBT families. In truth, as long as the law is tied to marriage the lack of marriage equality creates instability on every level and that is no good for anybody.

Bill Schuette looks very much like a man running for governor who knows that our state is as polarized as it can get and is trying to appeal to everyone. On one hand, he’s defending Detroit’s pension recipients to ensure the city’s bankruptcy doesn’t reduce their pension checks. On the other hand he’s the tea party’s front man, attacking Obamacare, defending his drug-maker immunity law, and now regulating our sex lives. For Schuette it appears that regulations are for sexual relationships, not polluters and negligent corporations.

I look foward to Judge Friedman sending this argument down in flames and maybe even giving AG Schuette a smack-down while he’s at it.

After making this illogical and offensive argument, he deserves it.

[Eclectameme by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog.Reuse of unaltered image is permitted.]

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  • ForsettiJustice

    I wasn’t aware that the capacity to procreate via sex was unique to humans, let alone married humans. “Animal Planet” and “Teen Mom” directly contradict this notion.

    • kwilson

      Best comment so far. Gold Star, Forsetti.

  • NCCaniac42

    I met Bill Schutte in the 80’s when he was in the MI House – knew he was one of those really “book smart idiots”. What an ass – he and his entire GOP Teaplican Taliban in the MI legislature. I hope the citizens of Michigan use this against him in the next election. He and VA AG Ken Cuccinelli are from the same “sex obsessed’ crowd.

    • Kinneroth

      Don’t worry. This Michigander will be voting against him in 2015, as well as reminding everyone I know that he actually said this. This isn’t only and insult to gays and lesbians, but an insult to infertile, and elderly couples as well. Hopefully, with him out of the way, Michigan can join the more enlightened, marriage equality crowd.

      • Carla Frances

        It’s also insulting to anyone that has sex for pleasure (Read: Everyone.) I thought the republicans wanted *small government*? In my book that includes staying out of my bedroom.

  • Sirene Rose

    he also doesn’t want queer folk adopting kids, but the straight infertile folk get to? what is his reason behind that? uch. also, christ, we are not in short supply of children on this planet, maybe making more should not be the impetus for creating laws and policies.

  • Carolyn 4444

    Let’s see here. In the news this past year, how many children were killed, abused, or sent to the hospital for injuries incurred in their families due to an action initiated by one of the members of a heterosexual relationship in Michigan? Several that we know of through media reporting…
    How many from a same-sex parenting couple? None.
    I’m not saying there couldn’t be, but look at the public statements.

  • Ms Smith

    What a bunch of crap. Stay out of our bedrooms and family planning. This man should never be elected to any public office ever again. Even Republicans will not agree to this..

    • kwilson

      If we were dealing with actual Republicans, it wouldn’t have come to this. Republicans are fiscally conservative, and socially liberal. We’re dealing with theocrats, end-of-days nuts, and racists. These people are not Republicans. They are merely control-freaks, who fly our colors while sabotaging our values, and spending billions of our tax dollars to advance a very narrow agenda.

  • judyms9

    Where is the GOP legislation that has in any way benefited the sacred children of whom Schuette writes? What have they done about enabling children locked into the state’s foster care system to find permanent and loving home no matter what the composition of the parentage in the homes. Schuette and his party lack all credibility when it comes to supporting Michigan’s children. But, of course, children cannot vote.

  • Eric Cromwell

    Al’Republiquaeda, protecting their rights to your body.

  • Becky Fogarty

    I had a tubal ligation in 2004… am I not allowed to get married now cause I can’t have any more babies?

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  • merrypip

    Not to mention there is an undercurrent of BTW we mean white babies.

    • kwilson

      Thank-you, for being so willing to point out THAT elephant in the room. The majority of kids who remain in the foster system for more than one year, are brown people, sick people, and teen people. Same-sex families are often far more willing to take the ‘unadoptable’ to raise, than their opposite sex-counterparts are, which would greatly contribute to a decrease in the number of ‘unadoptable’ children….who arose solely from opposite-sex unions. The obtuseness (or deliberate cruelty??) on the part of Schuette and this legal opinion, is mindboggling at the very least.

  • cal1942

    I thought Republicans were against regulation.

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  • Selena

    Maybe the AG didn’t use the right words, but I think although same sex partners are free with there sex lives, and how they spend it, still I believe breeding is a male – female relationship and not meant to be same sex thing, this is how nature made us.
    maybe same sex partners make good parents in the terms of kindness but a child does need a father and a mother to grow normally, an example to follow, and all this fuss about same sex rights to adopt and have a family is over rated issue, Americans have more pressing problems that needs to be addressed such as the economy, health regulations, poverty, and many other issues that are more urgent!

    • Mercedez Roper

      These are pressing problems to those who can’t get married and adopt children. And I’m sure I’m not the only person who resents your assertation that a child raised by a same sex couple can’t “grow normally”. That is your unproven opinion. The social and economic benefits to marriage being denied to same sex couples have an impact on poverty and the economy overall. And if the ethical implications are no concern of yours I hope for your sake that the things that are pressing issues in your life are important to everybody else.

      • Mingus

        Seconded. I had a mother and a father, and I would have been much better off, and developed more “normally” if my father hadn’t been around, seeing as how he was an abusive asshole. Without his presence, I probably would have saved thousands of dollars in therapy bills and been spared untold mental anguish.

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      Your opinions aren’t supported by the research that has been done on this topic. It’s also a much bigger deal than you think. We have far more children living in foster care and needing adoption than we have straight families willing to take them in.

    • Jillicentix

      Yeah, I mean, if the government were to come into your house right now, dissolve your marriage, confiscate your children, you would be like, “oh goodie, now I have more time to worry about syria and the debt ceiling!” Family is just so unimportant when compared to the BIG picture, right?

    • kwilson

      Please understand that breeding is not the only goal of human sexuality. Please consider that nature made a-sexual creatures, which breed with themselves, and produce offspring without a sexual partner. Please understand that nature ALSO made many creatures which engage in homosexual behavior, and that humans are only one such species among thousands. And please, for the love of whatever god you hold sacred, understand that the policy Schuette is advocating here FLIES IN THE FACE of the ‘family values’ you’re claiming to support. Thanks.

  • http://www.finchhaven.com/ John Sage

    “This argument is absurd on its face” doesn’t even begin to address the core issue, which the United States desperately needs to take a deep breath and admit to.

    The core issue here is the continued movement toward the deliberate establishment of an evangelical “Christian” theocracy in the United States.

    The evangelical right wing in America has, by my own direct personal experience, been very actively working toward this end since the late 1950’s.

    That the evangelical “Christian” right wing has been given a complete free pass by the Main Stream Media on this issue is unconscionable.

    There is no other more pervasive and more influential political movement in America; additionally the evangelical “Christian” right wing and its Biblical distortions can be found at the core of many, many other core issues that America needs to address.

  • Wolf Windshadow

    do the idiots in question recognize the damage they are doing… they are opening a real dangerous line of court cases… I can see it now…. a lawyer stating that if procreation serves the state’s interest then rape, which has often caused procreation, may well serve the state’s interest and therefore must be legal in Michigan…. after all the state clearly says that the purpose of sex is to make more babies, and nothing else… sorry, it’s a matter of the state’s babies, not a matter of control in Michigan….

  • scarecrow

    don’t blame Michigan no one actually voted for that idiot what happened is the federal gov decided that since michigans economy is pretty much in the toilet so they decided that who ever we voted for couldn’t possibly deal with this sort of situation and placed people into office in that sate not only on the legislative level but on the local level as well (which I am pretty sure is against the constitution….hell im pretty sure its even against the magna carta, you know the whole taxation with out representation thing…well if we didn’t vote for them how is there any possibility of representation) so there you have it *cough* fascist regime *cough*

  • Wanda Herbert Romain

    So much for the “less government in our lives” position. Now they believe that they should monitor marital sexual activity to make sure there’s a voting bloc they can control. STOOOOOOOOO-PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIID!

  • paulsilvan

    Bill, if your wife is over 45 you MUST separate as your marriage is no longer viable. Stip Schuetting the petty things, moron, and keep the government out of your constituencies personal lives.

  • paulsimon

    Reminds me of Ken “The Coch” Cuccinelli in Virginia who advocates bringing back the sodomy laws (that were declared un Constitutional by SCOTUS). This would mean that not only same sex couples, and the unpartnered, but all married couples would be committing a crime if they had consensual oral or anal sex. The guy makes Santorum look like Larry Flynt.

  • sandman839

    I hate to tell him this, but if all the state is concerned about is procreation then marriage is not even necessary. Is he for legalizing prostitution? What better way to get more children into the state.

  • Hoosier2112

    Joseph Goebbels is smiling, I believe.

  • Collean

    So….. if marriage is to ensure that people are produced……. I guess all the single michigan mothers out there are giving birth to non-people. Guess they will be putting these women in jail since they dare to defy the only reason michigan gives out marriage licenses.

  • aloryandaneaglet

    what????? what the hell is happening to the US? this kind of thing is becoming more and more over the top that it’s mindboggling.

  • The_Magic_M

    Remember, government interfering with your lives is only bad when Democrats do it, or you’re male and heterosexual.

  • JustTheFactsMa’am

    Wow! Where do these people come from?!

  • ShinjisSecret

    What is it with these ku-ku, boring sex obsessed AG’s? First Cuccinelli, now this guy.

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