Madsen’s opinion an insult to families

In her majority opinion on the Defense of Marriage Act, Washington State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Madsen made several irresponsible statements, including: “We conclude that limiting a marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers the state’s interest in procreation and encourages families with a mother and a father and children biologically related to both.”

Her assertion that the state has an interest in procreation is questionable enough; I was certainly unaware of a population shortage in Washington! But Madsen’s inference that biologically-related families are inherently superior is truly unfathomable.

What scientific, sociological evidence does she have? Apparently none, and the indefensibility of Madsen’s position is clearly demonstrated by such situations as that of a biological parent whose spouse (the other biological parent) dies, or of a biological parent who deserts or abuses the family.

Should the state encourage a widow(er) to remarry or stay single, based on the judge’s statements? (You can’t have it both ways!) Would a family be better off with an unfit biological mother or father than a loving, dependable step-parent? What does Madsen suggest be the fate of children with two abusive, unfit biological parents? Might such children not be better off in a supportive, stable foster or adoptive family?

Regardless of one’s opinion regarding DOMA, Madsen’s words (even if merely unthinkingly parroting the Legislature) are simply too insensitive and ill-considered to be ignored. The judge denigrated thousands – even millions – of Washington’s adoptive, step and foster parents and children, and widow(er)s.

Ignorance of the true makeup of Washington’s families is unfortunate in an average citizen, but inexcusable for a Supreme Court justice. I urge adoptive, step, single and foster family members to make their voices heard in the Legislature and courts – especially Madsen and the justices who concurred with her – with calls, letters and, most important, votes.

Dave Maness


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