Sunday, April 5, 2009

Left Field

This is a couple days old, but I was happily surprised by Iowa's Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriages. We live in such a bubble out here in California that I forget the fight is everywhere. Anyway the decision/opinion of the Justices is here and is worth the read but the best part is the treatment on child rearing. I'm pretty sure it's the best response to "what about the children?" that I've heard so far.

Promotion of Optimal Environment to Raise Children. The second of the County’s proffered governmental objectives involves promoting child rearing by a father and a mother in a marital relationship, the optimal milieu according to some social scientists. Although the court found support for the proposition that the interests of children are served equally by same-sex parents and oppositesex parents, it acknowledged the existence of reasoned opinions that dualgender parenting is the optimal environment for children. Nonetheless, the court concluded the classification employed to further that goal—sexual orientation—did not pass intermediate scrutiny because it is significantly under-inclusive and over-inclusive.

The statute, the court found, is under-inclusive because it does not exclude from marriage other groups of parents—such as child abusers, sexual predators, parents neglecting to provide child support, and violent felons—that are undeniably less than optimal parents. If the marriage statute was truly focused on optimal parenting, many classifications of people would be excluded, not merely gay and lesbian people. The statute is also under-inclusive because it does not prohibit same-sex couples from raising children in Iowa. The statute is over-inclusive because not all same-sex couples choose to raise children. The court further noted that the County failed to show how the best interests of children of gay and lesbian parents, who are denied an environment supported by the benefits of marriage under the statute, are served by the ban, or how the ban benefits the interests of children of heterosexual parents. Thus, the court concluded a classification that limits civil marriage to opposite-sex couples is simply not substantially related to the objective of promoting the optimal environment to raise children.