24.3.07

I Pronounce thee Man and Wife

Last fall, Wisconsin voters chose to pass an amendment to the state constitution solidifying state law restricting marriage to only one man and one woman. If you thought that would be the end of it, you were very mistaken.
(Althouse gets credit for catching this story before me.)

On March 16, the marriage of Barbara Lynn Terry and Nicole Winstanley was denied, because two women can not be married in Wisconsin. However, Barbara Lynn Terry was born Ronald Francis Terry. Terry was able to produce a birth certificate listing the name of Ronald and the gender as male, but staff still thought Terry was a woman. Because [S]he(?) was legally a man (and apparently has not [yet] undergone gender reassignment surgery), the marriage was allowed and the two were married yesterday in Milwaukee.
-Those of you who voted for the "defense of marriage" amendment last fall, this is what you voted to defend:

"The wedding - between a 58-year-old transgendered convicted rapist and a 22-year-old Australian lesbian who came to the United States last month to marry a person she'd never met - is the first in recent Wisconsin memory to be accompanied by a written statement of the judge's legal rationale for performing it."

Yes, Terry is twice his [her] wife's age and was previously convicted twice of raping a woman, although [s]he claims [s]he was framed, and was a homosexual attracted to men, " marriage notwithstanding - that she has never felt any attraction to women, let alone the impulse to rape one." And of course, immigration officials will want to know the marriage wasn't just to get a visa. So there are more than a few reasons that I might question the validity of this marriage. But, it was technically between a man and a woman, and that's all that matters, right?

While this specific marriage was valid, I have a few questions concerning what sort of policy will need to be implemented to ensure the man-woman requirement is met in every case. Will everyone need to offer proof of their gender to get a marriage license? I think it would be a bit unfair to only ask the men who look like they are women. Will you need a note from your doctor, or can you simply de-pant in front of a judge? Shouldn't a DNA test be the standard for determining sex? Penises can sometimes get lost. Do people who have undergone gender reassignment surgery get to chose what gender they are? The article seemed to imply that the marriage would not have been allowed if Terry had gotten his winky whacked. I suppose that would have been considered a win for the trans-gender legal rights movement, legally affirming their desire to have their gender reclassified. Does this mean that two lesbians can get married if one of them has a dildo sewn on? Does it mean that a man who has had his testicles removed because of cancer is no longer legally a man?

I have previously stated that I opposed the one man-one woman requirement for marriage. I don't think the government should withhold privileges based on someone's gender. But even if you think think that God disapproves of homosexuality, or that anal sex is icky, I hope you can at least see that our state's marriage laws have some serious practical flaws. I've had a heck of a time just deciding what pronouns to use to write this post (by the way, should it be he or she, depant or depants, penises or peni?); I don't think judges should have to try to make legal decisions based on these issues.

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