A Texas appeals court has struck down a trial court’s ruling Tuesday that the state’s ban on same-sex “marriage” violated the rights of a homosexual couple seeking a divorce. The court declared that “the natural ability to procreate” constituted the rational basis to restrict marriage to a man and a woman.
The Court of Appeals for the 5th District of Texas struck down the previous ruling that said that two homosexual plaintiffs married in Massachusetts, identified as J.B. and H.B., had a right to a same-sex “divorce” in Texas based on the “full faith and credit clause” of the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs obtained a marriage license from Massachusetts in September 2006, moved to Texas in 2008, and later that year J.B. demanded a no-fault divorce.
Although the plaintiffs said they were not looking to challenge the state ban on same-sex “marriage,” the trial court judge said the state’s ban on same-sex “marriage” and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) also violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
However, the Texas appeals court rejected those arguments, and ordered the trial court to reverse its decision, saying the standard of constitutional review for marriage was the “rational basis” test, not equal protection.
The Texas state court ruling strikes at the heart of U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling on Proposition 8. Walker ruled that Prop. 8 had no “rational basis” for excluding homosexuals from marriage, and was built on “a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples.”
The Texas court enumerated many reasons for the state having such a rational basis for restricting marriage to a man and a woman, which not only excludes same sex unions, but also polygamous ones.
“The persons singled out and favored by Texas’s marriage laws, namely opposite-sex couples, have such a distinguishing and relevant characteristic: the natural ability to procreate,” the court said.
“Thus, although a person’s sexual orientation does not affect his or her ability to contribute to society in general,” stated the decision, “it does bear on whether he or she will enter a relationship that is naturally open to procreation and thus trigger the state’s legitimate interest in child-rearing.”
The court also added that this rational basis for limiting marriage to heterosexual unions in no way concludes that homosexuals are “a suspect class.”
“Disparate treatment of different but similarly situated groups does not automatically violate equal protection.”
Furthermore, it concluded that Texas’s constitutional amendment on marriage does not “violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, a provision never before construed as a charter for restructuring the traditional institution of marriage by judicial legislation.”
The Texas state court affirmed that it was “reasonable for the state to conclude that the optimal familial setting for the raising of children is the household headed by an opposite-sex couple.”
It continued, “The state also could have rationally concluded that children are benefited by being exposed to and influenced by the beneficial and distinguishing attributes a man and a woman individually and collectively contribute to the relationship.”