Thursday, April 26, 2012

Minnesota Marriage Minute video, a response to Episode 17

Minnesota for Marriage has released Episode 17 of their Minnesota Marriage Minute video series, this time addressing the question:
Shouldn't marriage be redefined to accommodate the growing number of children of gay and lesbian couples?

Obviously, their answer is going to be "No." The interesting part is what reasons they give for saying "no," through the voice of Kalley Yanta. Yanta starts by saying that there are actually very few same-sex couples raising children, only 22% of same-sex couples in fact, using numbers from the Williams Institute at UCLA. It appears that Yanta's numbers may be out of date, actually, as the number is actually closer to 17%. The US Census Bureau (which the Williams Institute based some of it's numbers on) found some errors and revised their numbers in Sept, '11. The Williams Institute prepared a new snapshot using the revised numbers. Yanta does also use some numbers pulled from the Census data.

So, basically, when I checked the numbers and did the math, I came up with 0.21 percent of households in the US are same-sex households, and 0.04 percent of the total population is a same-sex couple raising their "own" child (which the Census defines as "never-married children under 18 who are sons or daughters of one partner or spouse (Person 1) by birth, marriage (stepchild), or adoption."). These numbers are lower than the ones Yanta uses, which of course she would undoubtedly believe strengthens her argument, which goes like this:
Why should the definition of marriage, which has served us so well, be redefined for the 99.88 percent of households, in order to accommodate the desires of the 0.12 percent? 
That's her entire argument. Well, let's consider an analogous situation. Prior to Loving v. Virginia in 1967, multiple states had laws on the books that banned interracial marriages. Just as today, we have laws banning same-sex marriage. Loving v. Virginia overturned the laws banning interracial marriage, and three years later the US Census Bureau conducted the census of the US. In 1970, the total population was 203,392,031, and the number of interracial marriages was approximately 65,000. That's a percentage of 0.031. That's less than the current percentage of same-sex couples (since same sex marriage is only legal in a handful of states, compared to interracial marriage being legal in all states in 1970, I'm using the figures for total same-sex households, not just those legally married; it's certain that many of those unmarried same-sex couples would like to be married, but cannot be legally). I don't have numbers for how many of those 65,000 interracial couples had children, but obviously the percentage of the total population would have been less than the percentage of same-sex couples with children in 2010.

So, why was it ok to redefine marriage in 1967 to accommodate the desires of 0.03 percent of the population (or less, if you just look at whatever number had children)? Equality, of course.

No matter how small a particular sub-population is, we do not have a right to deny that population equal rights with the majority. Ever. One of the strengths of a republic like America is that the minority is protected from an absolute tyranny of the majority. Or at least, that's how it's supposed to be. That's what the 14th Amendment, the 1st Amendment, and the "balance of powers" is supposed to help ensure. This is part of what the Supreme Court recognized in 1967, and why they overturned the miscegenation bans that were in place at the time.

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