By Emily Geiger
Constitution Daily raised an excellent point yesterday. He/She/It pointed out that under Iowa’s incest law, men are prohibited from marrying their female relatives, and women are prohibited from marrying their male relatives. But, given the Iowa Supreme Court’s recent decision stating its opinion that dudes can now marry dudes and chicks can now marry chicks, it appears there is no prohibition on men marrying their male relatives and women marrying their female relatives.
I think, from a legal perspective, so long as the son or daughter or niece or nephew is of age to consent to sex (which I think is 16 in Iowa), all’s good so long as you’ve got the same body parts. Oh, and so long as your same-sex relative is not your student, and you’re not his/her school teacher.
Here’s the really interesting thing. One of the reasons the Court, in its opinion, ruled the way it did was because, despite the defendants putting forth good arguments that marriage is largely about procreation, the court disagreed that marriage is about procreation, so despite the fact that gay people can’t ever (naturally) procreate (with each other), that doesn’t matter.
The Court also said that some of Iowa’s already-enacted statutes provided them with some precedent and rationale for claiming that homosexuals were a special, protected class of people. The Court used this to make claims about the legislature’s intentions.
So, what does the no-incest-in-marriage statute tell us about the legislature’s intentions? Why do we forbid incestuous marriages?
Well, in a word, procreation. We know that close relatives procreating produce a substantial likelihood of creating offspring with genetic defects, often resulting in physical or mental problems.
Hmmm… so the Iowa legislature has passed a law acknowledging that providing a more ideal environment for procreation in marriage is a valid reason to enact a law. One might even say that this law provides precedent and rationale for considering a potentially ideal procreation environment to be a valid reason to restrict marriage.
But what if I (a girl) want to marry my brother (geeze, I just cringed writing that), and we promise not to have kids? And not all kids born of incest come out with problems. Doesn’t that make the incest law over-inclusive (just like the Court claimed the Defense of Marriage Act was)?
And hey, don’t they say incest is bad in the Bible? Isn’t this only a stupid religious rule that shouldn’t apply to me if that’s not what I believe? After all, I only want to be civilly married, not religiously married.
Those arguments don’t seem to have any impact on the validity of the no-incest-in-marriage statute, yet, they seem to have been the reason why the Court didn’t like the Defense of Marriage Act.
I know this will be a shock – brace yourselves people – but I think we’ve stumbled upon a double standard.
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