A lawyer for an anti-gay legal group said in a brief filed with a federal appeals court on March 28 that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is necessary for the “procreation” of children.
“Redefining marriage harms marriage’s ability to serve those interests by serving marriage’s inherent connection to procreation and communicating that the primary end of marriage laws is to affirm adult desires rather than serve children’s needs, and suppressing the importance of both mothers and fathers to children’s development,” wrote Byron J. Babione of the Alliance Defending Freedom in a brief he filed with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., on behalf of Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michèle McQuigg.
Babione argued that U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen “sought to discredit these procreation- and child-focused purposes for marriage” in her Feb. 13 ruling that struck down Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
“Plaintiffs ask this court to use the law’s power to redefine the institution of marriage,” said Babione. “That redefinition would transform marriage in the public consciousness from a gendered to a genderless institution – a conversation that would be swift and unalterable, the gendered institution having been declared unconstitutional.”
Babione also cites the Witherspoon Institute in his brief to make the argument that it is “best for a child to be reared by his or her own mother and father.” The New Jersey-based conservative think tank largely funded Mark Regnerus’ study on the issue that a federal judge earlier this month dismissed as “entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration” in his ruling that struck down Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban.
“Genderless marriage communicates that marriage exists primarily for the government to approve emotional or romantic bonds, because those sorts of bonds (and not sexual conduct of the type that creates children) would be the prominent feature shared by the couples who marry,” said Babione.
David B. Oakley, who represents Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer, III, in the case, said in a separate brief he filed with the federal appeals court on March 28 that Allen “began her opinion with the misconception that Virginia’s definition of marriage is solely based upon prejudice and animus towards gay and lesbian couples.” She opened her ruling with a quote from Mildred Loving, whose challenge of Virginia’s interracial marriage ban prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to issue its landmark Loving v. Virginia decision in 1967.
Oakley further argued Schaefer and others who issue marriage licenses would “face exposure to additional lawsuits” from those denied them if the 4th Circuit upholds Allen’s ruling.
“Same-sex marriage proponents want to open the door of marriage for their benefit and then slam it shut behind them,” wrote Oakley. “It will not be long before other groups come knocking.”
Court records indicate the Family Research Council on March 26 sought to file an amicus brief in the Bostic case, but the federal appeals court blocked it as “premature.” The Washington Blade was unable to immediately obtain a copy of the filing.
Timothy Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk and Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield last year challenged the commonwealth’s marriage amendment. The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal – who filed a separate lawsuit last summer on behalf of Victoria Kidd and Christy Berghoff of Winchester and Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff of Staunton – have been allowed to join the Bostic case.
U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski in January certified the ACLU and Lambda Legal lawsuit as a class action.
The federal appeals court on May 12 is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the Bostic case.
Attorney General Mark Herring earlier this year announced he would not defend Virginia’s marriage amendment that voters in 2006 approved by a 57-43 percent margin.
Briefs from the lawyers who are representing the plaintiffs are due to the court on April 11.
“Our attorneys will review the briefs from the clerks and will respond as appropriate in the brief the commonwealth will file by the April 11 deadline,” Herring spokesperson Michael Kelly told the Blade.