The State of Arizona has filed a brief in a court case challenging its man-and-woman definition of marriage, detailing why it thinks this definition is necessary. I won't go into the whole thing, but I want to address two points made by the state. Here is the first:
The state regulates marriage for the primary purpose of protecting relationships that would produce children and let those children grow up with a biological mother and father.
Dalton said marriage laws are meant to ensure a stable environment exists for children and aren't based on any sort of ill will toward gay people.
They can pretend this all they want, but it is not true. Marriage is deeply intertwined into state law, everything from taxation to patient rights in hospitals to inheritance to real estate law. In all, I found hundreds of different references to marriage in the state code, only a minority of which had anything to do with children
I searched the Arizona Revised Statutes for mentions of the words "spouse" or "spouses". These words are used 1133 times in 373 different statutes! The Our America team told me they counted over a thousand references in Federal code. In other words, our law codes give -- in thousands of instances -- specific rights, responsibilities, and privileges to married couples who have access to a state-granted marriage license. Those left out of the current unequal definition of marriage face any number of challenges imposed on them by these specifics of spousal rights and privileges embedded in our law code. I call this the non-marriage penalty.
The other argument I want to address is this one:
In earlier documents, lawyers offered evidence they say suggests redefining marriage would lead to fewer men and women marrying each other and greater instability in existing marriages.
Included were statistics showing that in five states where same-sex marriage had become legal, overall marriage rates had dropped from 2010 to 2011 and the divorce rate in one state, Massachusetts, had risen sharply.
Perhaps the Arizona Republic is portraying this "evidence" incorrectly, but what is described is pathetic. A one-year change in marriage rates (or about anything else) is just noise, and is even more useless when one cherry-picks just a few states that have the data you want and fail to provide any controls or sense for how this compare to long-term trends. Further, is is just crazy to think that societal trends work this way. People don't change fundamental behaviors like marriage in mass after such a change -- for example divorce rates took decades to rise after liberalizations in divorce laws. Besides, no one can demonstrate any mechanism by which this occurs. I am not big on anecdotal evidence but no one can even come up with an anecdote: "Mabel and I were going to get married in June, had the church all picked out, but then they let those gays marry and we decided marriage was not for us." Seriously? This is some Conservative fantasy. Like anecdotes, I don't like polling data, but where is the polling data that says "I am less likely to marry my girlfriend if gays can marry too."
By the way, as I have written before, if Arizona is really concerned about protecting the institution and seriousness of marriage, they should ban Kardashian marriage instead.