U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia didn't hand down any ruling Wednesday following a hearing on two Texas couples' lawsuit challenging Texas' gay-marriage ban. A decision, on whether to grant the couples' request for a preliminary injunction blocking Texas' constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex unions, "will be forthcoming at some time," he said.
Not that it will settle anything. The lawsuit -- or one of the similar challenges filed in other states -- will eventually wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. As he noted in court, "Ultimately, a group of five people will decide this case, and I'm not one of those five," Garcia said.
The hearing, though, did give lawyers for both sides the chance to publicly make their case. The couples -- Plano's Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss and Austin's Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman -- base their argument on the 14th Amendment, saying a gay-marriage ban violates their right to equal protection under the law.
Texas, represented by Assistant Texas Solicitor General Mike Murphy, countered that the state has a legitimate interest in preserving the "traditional definition of marriage," calling the same-sex kind, which became law in Massachusetts in 2004, "a more recent innovation than Facebook."
And why does Texas have such a compelling interest in defining marriage as between a man and a woman?
"The purpose of Texas marriage law is not to discriminate against same-sex couples but to promote responsible procreation," Murphy said, according to The Dallas Morning News. Kids, he argued, fare better when they're raised by heterosexual couples.
But the bulk of social science research on the topic suggests otherwise. In a 2010 brief filed in a gay-marriage case in California, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy wrote that claims the straight people make better parents or that children of gay couples fare worse "find no support in the scientific research literature."
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Indeed, the scientific research that has directly compared outcomes for children with gay and lesbian parents with outcomes for children with heterosexual parents has been consistent in showing that lesbian and gay parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents. Empirical research over the past two decades has failed to find any meaningful differences in the parenting ability of lesbian and gay parents compared to heterosexual parents.
Murphy didn't provide any compelling arguments that undercut the scientific consensus. Nor did he offer a good explanation for why, if the state's interest in promoting "responsible procreation" is so strong, the elderly and infertile are allowed to wed.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.