There is an ongoing lawsuit in the state of Michigan right now to overturn our state's ban on same-sex marriage, Deboer v. Snyder. A lot of hubbub has been raised in the media about a statement in this document filed by the State defendants, claiming:
"One of the paramount purposes of marriage in Michigan—and at least 37 other states that define marriage as a union between a man and a woman—is, and has always been, to regulate sexual relationships between men and women so that the unique procreative capacity of such relationships benefits rather than harms society. The understanding of marriage as a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the rearing of children born of their union, is age-old, universal, and enduring." [p. 15]Quite a bit has been said already (HuffPo, MLive, ThinkProgress, Detroit News – no coverage from national mainstream media it seems, cursory searches aren't turning up articles), but what is rather strange is how not many people have caught on to a very basic detail about this statement, which comes before how contemptuous this is or how detached from the people's understanding of marriage is:
It's just fundamentally not true.
The argument is insultingly stupid. There are zero consummation requirements for married couples in Michigan, there are zero requirements for married couples to have or raise kids, there are zero regulations on the types of sex that married couples may have (barring sexual misconduct of 1st through 4th degrees, which apply to all people – but hey actually there are provisions for married couples to not be covered by those laws, like here here and here! I guess if regulation and lack of regulation can be considered the same thing...). There is not even a requirement for married couples to undergo testing for diseases and infections, as exists in some other states, only that educational material on these be provided. Of the laws in Michigan pertaining to marriage, none relate to sex.
So, the purpose of marriage in Michigan is to regulate sexual relationships? There are no regulations of sexual relationships for married couples in Michigan. And even if there were laws in Michigan regulating sexual relationships of married couples (which again, there aren't!), allowing same-sex couples to get married cannot possibly reduce the efficacy of said regulations.
In fact, if these fantastical regulations actually worked to effect their stated goal, you'd think that they'd want homosexual couples to marry, so that their children would grow up in more stable households! Heck, you'd think they'd even take the advice of the people that they reference on p. 16 of their report, who all argue that a married parental structure is better for children than a simply cohabiting couple of parents, or a single parent.
You'd think, anyway. But these aren't thinking people.
EDIT – correction
It's been pointed out to me by a more-astute-than-myself reader that in Michigan, adultery is still technically illegal, as is cohabiting by divorced parties (I think this means two people who divorce and then still live together, rather than two individuals from separate divorced marriages). The law has been on the books since 1931, but it has not been enforced since 1971; it's my understanding that, like failure to consummate a marriage, adultery can and likely has been used in divorce filings, but apparently it's possible to be prosecuted for adultery, which it is a felonious offense.
Considering too how this type of sexual behavior probably will have drastic effects on a marriage, this is probably a paramount example of a regulation on sexual relationships of married people. And yes, it has not been enforced for over 4 decades, but it's technically on the books and I suppose the state could decide to prosecute any time it chooses (backlash notwithstanding).