Now that the post-modern ideologues and feckless careerists of the New York State Legislature have re-defined marriage to mean something that it cannot mean, we can reflect on the absurdity that they have created.
According to the Orwellian-named “Marriage Equality Act”, civil marriage under the laws of New York State will now be defined as a civil contract between any individuals (two, for the time being) who choose to consent to it, “regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same or different sex”. In other words, sex doesn’t matter to marriage — only consent does.
But another provision of New York State law already holds that sex not only matters to marriage, but that normal male/female sexual intercourse is the standard for whether a marriage is valid. And the “Marriage Equality Act” didn’t change that law at all.
The statute in question can be found in Section 7 of the Domestic Relations Law, which is entitled “Voidable Marriages”. It reads, in part:
A marriage is void… if either party thereto: (3) Is incapable of entering into the married state from physical cause.
This is an ancient principle of the law, a legacy that comes to us from the English common law and which finds its roots in ecclesiastical law. The courts have always interpreted it to mean that the couple must be physically capable of consummating the marriage by having normal male/female sexual intercourse, what one court once delicately called “natural and perfect coition” — or, to use the traditional Latin phrase, “copula vera “. The reason behind this law is, of course, the immemorial and universal recognition that ordinary sexual relations between men and women, the kind that potentially may lead to the procreation of children, is essential to the very nature of marriage.
So there’s the absurdity that has been produced by the “Marriage Equality Act”. We have one provision of the law saying that that persons of the same sex may validly enter into marriage, even though they would obviously not be engaging in normal sexual intercourse. But we have another part of the law that holds that ordinary sexual intercourse between a man and woman is an essential part of the definition of marriage itself.
I have no illusions about this. The “Marriage Equality Act” will not be struck down by the courts because it conflicts with another part of the law. I am confident that, if the issue ever arose, a Humpty Dumpty court will feel free to re-define “copula vera” to reflect the fallacy of same-sex “marriage”.
But the fact remains. The “Marriage Equality Act” is on its face an absurd piece of legislation. And it is directly rebuked by history, tradition, common sense — and New York State law itself.