A married opposite-sex couple in Kansas have filed an unusual request to intervene in a case challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage, claiming that embracing the freedom to marry would result in gay couples seizing the family's property -- well, if you count clinging to a definition of "traditional marriage" as property.
In a six-page motion to intervene filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in Kansas City Wednesday, Philip and Sandra Unruh present a litany of reasons why the couple believes they have a legal right to defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The case is scheduled to be heard in court Friday by U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree.
It's a veritable play-by-play of antigay arguments already advanced -- and universally rejected -- in nearly 50 state and federal courts nationwide where officials and antigay groups have failed to uphold bans on marriage equality. But there's something particularly insidious and short-sighted about the Unruh's claims that marriage is such a sacred, unique institution that it must be protected from those who "choose" a partner of the same sex in a concerted effort to "redefine marriage."
The entire brief is worth a read for its sheer absurdity, but in case you're short on time, here's our Reader's Digest version of the Unruh's most outlandish arguments:
Marriage Has Always Been Between One Man and One Woman
The filing frequently references the Bible, most prominently in its claim that marriage "has been universally understood [to be opposite-sex] and practiced as far back as civilization has been recorded ... "
"That is why the amendment was passed by 70% of Kansas voters and similar laws have been established in many states. ... No same sex couple has ever been issued a marriage license in Kansas, so the amendment did not change anything."
Editor's note: Actually, a lesbian couple was issued a marriage license in Kansas earlier this month when a local judge ordered clerks in Johnson County, the state's most populous, to marry same-sex couples. The state Supreme Court later put that ruling on hold pending appeal.
Marriage Itself Is Property That Belongs Only to Heterosexual Couples
"The Unruhs have a inalienable property right in their marriage that is protected by the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Kansas Constitution and related Kansas Statutes. ...
"If the Plaintiffs are successful in their causes of action the meaning of marriage will be so fundamentally and profoundly changed that the Unruh's will experience a taking of their property rights in marriage without due process of law."
Same-Sex Couples Are Being Greedy by Seeking Relationship Recognition (But Straight People Don't Want to Share "Marriage")
"Plaintiff's [sic] are not content to behave as they wish or to find their own name for their relationship without taking the name Unruhs use for their relationship. The Unruhs do not want to share the marriage name and neither did 70% of the Kansans [sic] when they voted to pass the amendment, not because of who Plaintiffs are but what marriage is."
Same-Sex Couples Seeking Marriage Want to Validate Their "Choice," So They Don't Deserve Equality
"The Plaintiffs [sic] case targets marriage to solve the ills associated with their choice of relationships based on the sex of married couples and thus discriminates against marriage couples [sic] based on sex. ...
"Priniciples of equality regarding the marriage relationship and the same sex relationship do not apply as the two relationships differ as apples and oranges."
Marriage Equality Directly Harms Straight People
Any decision striking down the Kansas law prohibiting same-sex marriage would, according to the brief, "violate the equal rights and due process protection clauses of the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution with respect to the Unruhs not Plaintiffs in that:
"The Unruhs and other married people would be singled out for a solution to the problems Plaintiffs complain result from their choice of a same sex relationship. ... The extension of marriage to same sex relationships inflicts profound harm on the Unruhs. For the court to say that from this day forward marriage in Kansas must be extended to a same sex couple is and for ever will be deeply disturbing to the Unruhs and undoubtedly those that cared enough to pass an amendment to protect it, a departure from the joy and celebration normally associated with the word marriage."
Thought of Marriage Equality Leaves Unruhs 'Disturbed,' But Not Because of Bigotry
"Disturbed, not because of bigotry, but out of solemn respect for what marriage is, what it has meant to them and to society in general. Marriage is perhaps the single most valuable institution society has ever had. The standards established by marriage and its exclusive nature enjoyed by the Unruhs can not be ignored or impaired without fundamental civil rights of the Unruhs being disturbed and marriage people [sic] being discriminated against."
Granting Same-Sex Couples Access to Marriage Makes It Cease to Exist, Causes Existential Linguistic Crisis
"Clearly the Plaintiffs seek to redefine the marriage word the Unruhs and thousands like them in Kansas use to describe their relationship in order to extend marriage to them. If Plaintiffs are successful marriage will no longer be as it has been defined. In fact the court decision upon which Plaintiffs rely Kitchen v. Herbert [citation removed], leaves the word marriage undefined. Can a word exist without a definition? What is marriage after the Kitchen Courts fundamental restructuring of the concept? Can the rule of law survive the dismantling of key words like marriage? Should the proper application of principals of equality have such a result?"
Interestingly, the couple claims that marriage equality would violate the Unruh's constitutional rights under the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment -- which is the same segment of the founding document most frequently cited by more than 40 federal and state courts that have ruled in favor of marriage equality.