Meanwhile in Bucks Country: Gays Are Too Awesome for Marriage

You can believe one of Nathan Fox's arguments against gay marriage. You can't believe them all.

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You’ve got to hand it to Langhorne attorney Nathan D. Fox. He’s constructed one of the more unique arguments against gay marriage I’ve ever seen introduced to a court, and it goes a little something like this:

Gays: You’re too awesome for marriage.

No really.

This argument isn’t really what I was expecting to find when I started sifting through Fox’s brief on Sunday, after an Inquirer story about how that brief — filed on behalf of Bucks County Register of Wills Donald Petrillehad brought the the gay marriage debate to Doylestown. The Inquirer quoted a portion of Fox’s brief (it runs nearly 10,000 words long, see the full document at the bottom of this column) arguing that marriage is rooted in the “biological fact that opposite-sex couples reproduce.”

That is, in fact, one of a trio arguments that Fox makes against homosexual marriage — all of which touch on the ability of gays and lesbians to raise children — any one of which might be a sincere explanation of why Pennsylvania shouldn’t allow gays and lesbians to marry. And yes, one of those arguments is that gays and lesbians have proven they’re so cool they don’t need legal recognition for their unions.

After all, there’s recent research suggesting children of gay parents do pretty much as well as children of straight relationships. Which led Fox to write this:

“If one takes the research at face value, as plaintiffs ask this Court to do, the claimed research findings undercut a need for same-sex marriage — they suggest that children raised by same-sex couples are doing equally well without it, and are not harmed by its absence.”

(Slow golf clap.) That, friends, is nothing if not audacious. Let’s make his argument just a little more clear: 

We know you’d love to have your civil rights, gay folks, but look how how great you’re doing without them! Why don’t you just get on down the road before legal recognition for your family ruins what makes you real and beautiful! 

Again: Wow. The outrageousness of Fox’s suggestion becomes more apparent when you realize that in the previous breaths, Fox made two other, ultimately contradicting arguments:

• That kids need their straight parents, and that gay marriage would have the effect of “depriv(ing) a child of access to the comfort of their creators.” That phrasing suggests, somehow, that gay and lesbian couples would be able to take healthy children out of loving, straight relationships — but nobody believes that, do that, do they? Fox acknowledges that straight and homosexual couples, as well as individuals, do adopt children because “the focus is attempting to provide an adequate environment for a child in non-ideal circumstances” — but he doesn’t explain how merely being “adequate” parents is an argument against the recognition of gay marriage.

• Actually, Fox says, we don’t know enough about whether gay and lesbian couples are good parents or not. It’s a nice little bit of Catch-22 logic: We can’t have gay marriage because we don’t have studies on its effects. But we can’t have studies on its effects if we don’t have gay marriage. Sorry, gay folks! Guess we’ll just have to skip the gay marriage!.

 OK, maybe I’m over-interpreting. Here’s what Fox actually writes:

Gay marriage “has not existed for even a single generation, so there can be no significant, longitudinal social-science data regarding its large-scale, long-term effects upon children, families, governments, economies, and societies over generations. … The Commonwealth’s cautious approach to this novelty, like any other, is inherently rational.”

Maybe. But to sum up, Fox’s argument is this:

  • That gay parents aren’t as good as straight parents, thus gay marriage should be denied.
  • That actually, we don’t know enough about gay marriage to know its effects on children or society, thus gay marriage should be denied.
  • That, wait a second, maybe we do know about gay marriage’s effects on kids — they’re good! — thus gay marriage should be denied.

It may be possible — barely, in the case of the last bullet point — to believe one of those three arguments. It may be even be possible to believe two of them at the same time. There’s no way to believe all three together, however. It’s a combination of innuendo and a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too-ism that shouldn’t work … but sometimes does.

The anti-marriage-equality folks, it seems, don’t have much left that they can rely on. Nathan Fox’s brief they’re going to see how far they can get on sheer chutzpah.

Follow @JoelMMathis on Twitter.