In the latest installment of “why tackle the difficult issues when you can score cheap political points through gay bashing,” LaVar Christensen, a member of the Utah House of Representatives, has introduced HB 270, the so-called Family Policy Bill.
Most of the bill consists of a list of platitudes about marriage and unsupported/overblown (though far from uncommon) claims about its role in, and effects on, society. And, of course, no measure bashing same-sex couples would be complete without some troubling (constitutionally dubious?) references to religion thrown in for good measure (one report even observed that the language of the bill “mirrors a proclamation from LDS church leaders”). Here is the text of the first five paragraphs of the bill:
(1) The institution of marriage and family, consisting of the legal union of a man and a
woman and children conceived and born to, or adopted by, the married couple as father and mother, is the fundamental unit of society and the optimum environment in which to nurture and raise a child.
(2) Marriage and family predate all governments and are supported by and consistent with the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God, the Creator and Supreme Judge of the World, affirmed in the nation’s founding Declaration of Independence.
(3) Marriage represents the legal sanction and approval of society and is essential to ordered liberty and public virtue.
(4) Procreation within marriage links generations and is fundamental to the perpetuity of humanity.
(5) (a) Families anchored by both a father and a mother, fidelity within marriage, and enduring devotion to the covenants and responsibilities of marriage are the desired norm.
(b) Cultures and societies where laws, practices, and public policies protect, preserve, and promote such enduring and time-honored family values and principles are happiest, healthiest, and most stable.
Query whether Christensen counts different-sex married couples with children conceived using assisted reproductive technology within the charmed circle. Are children conceived with the help of in vitro fertilization or born to a surrogate who assists the couple in having a child “conceived and born to . . . the married couple as father and mother”? Are these families–along with families headed by same-sex couples, as discussed below–to be discouraged? Christensen claims that the bill won’t affect programs assisting single mothers but, for example, “could be used as an argument against changing Utah law to allow single people to adopt.”
Against that background, the bill lays the foundation for its attack on nontraditional families:
(6) The furtherance and protection of order and public morality are legitimate and substantial government interests.
(7) To the extent social problems arise that adversely affect the desired optimum family condition, such as the dissolution of marriage, crime, poverty, immorality, violence, and other conditions that place added responsibilities on individuals and communities through publicly funded and administered social programs and government services, laws and regulations shall be carefully scrutinized to determine how they impact the family and the protection of children.
The final paragraph of the bill contains the text that has been construed to exclude nontraditional families from publicly funded programs:
(8) (a) The laws of the state shall, to the fullest extent possible, strengthen, safeguard, and sustain families.
(b) They shall respect and promote the essential and complementary roles of both a father and a mother and uphold this public policy for the greatest public good.
So, the answer to the divorce, crime, poverty, immorality, and violence that adversely affect the so-called traditional family (or what Christensen calls “the desired optimum family condition”) is to “respect and promote the essential and complementary roles of both a father and a mother”; that is, disadvantaging families headed by same-sex couples will solve (not add to!) all our problems.