Greg Abbott, Texas Attorney General and a Republican running for the Texas governor’s seat, is appealing last Wednesday’s ruling that strikes down the Texas ban on gay marriage. The ban is part of the state’s constitution which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Abbott is arguing that the state ban on same-sex marriage should not be lifted because that would not encourage heterosexual couples to have more children, and that it would increase out-of-wedlock pregnancies and births, and the costs that those circumstances impose on society.
The attorney general’s comments were made in a brief filed on Friday with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in which he stated that Texas is not required to show that allowing same-sex marriages would undermine heterosexual marriage, but only that it must show how opposite-sex marriage is better for the state’s citizens. Abbott maintains that the state merely has an economic interest in marriage, and that the marriage laws in Texas are “rationally related” to encouraging couples to have children, as offspring are needed to “ensure economic growth and the survival of the human race.” His second argument in the brief was that those marriage laws support the state’s interest in reducing unplanned, out-of-wedlock children.
According to Abbott, marriage includes heterosexual intercourse that is procreative, therefore, the Texas marriage laws reduce the number of children born out-of-wedlock and thereby reduce the costs imposed on society by those births. Repealing the same-sex marriage ban would not encourage heterosexual, married couples to procreate.
Abbott’s opponent in the gubernatorial race is Democratic Texas Sen. Wendy Davis. Davis said in a statement that she believes all Texans who are committed to spending their lives together and love each other should be allowed to marry. Davis has been under attack recently due to a campaign ad that references the accident that left Abbott paralyzed and in a wheelchair. In the ad she criticizes him for the large monetary settlement he received when he was paralyzed by a falling tree branch, and that he has since spent his career working against other victims, portraying him as someone who works against the disabled.
Conceding in the brief that there might some positive economic effects on society from same-sex marriage, Abbott stated that it is for the Legislature to decide the issue of who has a right to marry, not the courts. He denies that other courts’ decisions to overturn bans on gay marriage set reasonable precedent, because they represent only the subjective beliefs of a few judges, saying that this amounts to a government of men, not of laws.
The Texas ruling came as part of a busy week on the subject, as five more states were added to the lists of those that recognize same-sex marriage. At this time 29 states have marriage equality.
The brief filed by Abbott reiterated some of the same argument regarding “responsible procreation” that he made in July, in the state’s first appeal of a district court’s overturning of the Texas gay marriage ban. In that appeal he argued that marriage between heterosexual couples benefits society more because it encourages married couples to have children and sets a good example for other couples to do the same.
By Beth A. Balen