DALTON - On a recent morning while drinking coffee and reading the Eagle, I learned that the attorney representing the defense in the Oklahoma gay marriage case now before the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver said that one "rational" reason that gays should not be allowed to marry is that they lack the "natural procreative potential of opposite-sex couples."
After my blood pressure spiked to dangerous levels and then slowly subsided, I began to methodically catalogue the absurdity of that statement. I share that with you now.
n Of all the scarce commodities requiring protection, procreative potential doesn't seem to be one of them. In 2011, the global population hit 7 billion, and is poised to hit 9.6 billion by 2050 -- a growth rate unprecedented in human history. We are not in a situation where the future labor market is threatened by a dwindling population! Instead, the social and environmental damages of our burgeoning numbers are so numerous that one could write 10 op-eds about them.
Food, water, and energy insecurity -- and the attendant environmental damage from all extractive industries needed to supply a growing population -- deforestation and habitat loss, urban sprawl, air and water pollution, overfishing, species extinction, global warming -- all threaten the future of life on earth. A few couples not having kids will not set us back.
* Should post-menopausal, non-procreative women be forbidden from marrying? They are all washed up, as we know -- their wombs reduced to dried-up husks, and therefore their owners of no redeeming social value. Harsh as it may seem, we must admit that to allow a 60-year old woman to marry is a communal embarrassment.
* Should men with low sperm counts -- or none at all -- also be denied marriage licenses? Perhaps they worked in an industry where they were exposed to toxic chemicals and were left sterile. Perhaps they just had bad genetic luck. It doesn't matter -- their hopes of insemination are futile pipe dreams -- their testicles are clearly useless, shriveled skin sacs that just create extra drag while walking. They may as well be castrated simply to streamline their movements and make their pants fit better. Oh, and of course they shouldn't be allowed to marry. Heavens to Betsy!
* By extension, perhaps we should make it a condition of obtaining a marriage license that all heterosexual couples:
a) be examined by a doctor to ensure that both are suitably fertile,
b) produce a sworn affidavit that they will have sex regularly -- within the carefully tracked windows of the woman's ovulation cycles, of course, and
c) fully intend to breed.
If such breeding is not accomplished within a given time frame after the wedding (say, 10 years, or before the woman turns 35, whichever comes first), the marriage license will be revoked by the issuing county clerk, and the couples will in effect be legally required to divorce.
I will be sad to see my friends Margot and David divorce. Their mutually supportive life of public service has been so interesting to observe over the years -- he as a tireless political activist and a beloved student leader at a prominent college campus, and she as a successful chiropractor, environmental advocate, and candidate for elected office -- but they violated the Kid Code, and their union must be dissolved. Alas, the same holds true for my friends Eve and Alex -- she a brilliant linguistics professor and author, and he a Ph.D. chemist who helped pioneer the development of medical devices now in use worldwide. Their organic garden is something to behold, and their community of friends knows no bounds. But they really, really blew it on the kid thing, and I think we would all agree that they must be torn asunder.
* In the James Cameron-directed movie playing in my mind (with swelling, John Williams soundtrack), I see a long parade of gay couples marching through the Denver courtroom, proudly displaying the children they have managed to acquire by various nefarious and mysterious means.
There are lesbians who impregnated themselves with sperm donors, and are now raising straight-A students who are active in their religious communities and get leads in the school play. There are gay couples raising daughters they adopted from China or Vietnam, or who were carried by surrogates in a well-planned pregnancy whose details resemble that of a complex military operation.
The dual dads beam, showing the judge photos of their kids' first baby teeth, first steps, first swing in the playground, first time at bat. There are the gay couples who stepped in to raise their drug-addicted sisters' kids when a social services agency took them away and was desperately looking for a suitable foster home.
Some same-sex pairs spent over $50,000 and waited for years for a domestic adoption. Their dedication to their children far surpasses that of legions of hetero parents who had "accidents" and ended up with more kids than they'd ever thought possible -- and whose little miscreants are now smoking cigarettes, dropping out of school at 16, and are well on their way to producing their own little miscreants through the wondrous process of natural procreation.
Potential is an amazing thing. How we define it makes all the difference.
Jenny Gitlitz has bred exactly two children.