I’ll just go ahead and admit that it’s going to be a long time before I can let this go and stop going on about the Maryland
“Looking beyond the fact that any inquiry into the ability or willingness of a couple actually to bear a child during marriage would violate the fundamental right to marital privacy recognized in Griswold, 381 U.S. at 484-86, 493, 85 S. Ct. at 1681, 14 L. Ed. 2d 510, the fundamental right to marriage and its ensuing benefits are conferred on opposite-sex couples not because of a distinction between whether various opposite-sex couples actually procreate, but rather because of the possibility of procreation.”
-Judge Glenn Harrell, Jr.
Maybe that’s because I keep coming across examples of just how far the court has lowered the bar by arguing, essentially, that if you and your spouse can perform the bodily functions necessary to make babies — or even possibly do so if you were not, say infertile or well past child-bearing age — you deserve the benefits and protections of marriage.
I’ve started compiling these examples in a series, and it looks like there won’t be a shortage any time soon. Just this evening I stumbled across one, right in my own back yard, of an enterprising pedophile who reproduced and then put his progeny to work procuring for him.
As Stanley Schwartz apologized to a judge in a Montgomery County courtroom yesterday for molesting three minors, his ex-wife and three of his four children sat in the front row, waiting to be heard.
When the time came, the youngest of the three siblings, all of whom are now adults, spoke first. “Pedophiles are mentally ill and cannot be cured of this disease,” she said, reading from a statement. “It is our responsibility to take him off the street.”
The three described Schwartz, 65, as a prolific abuser so obsessed with sexual encounters with minors that he used his children as bait to lure others to his home and on family trips.
…Schwartz’s son told the court that his father used him as “bait” to molest children.
“The memories I have about my father are not good ones,” he said. “They are associated with both abuse and manipulation. I’m not going to sit here and elaborate on every time I witnessed my father abusing children or every time he used me to bring him into contact with more children. I will just say this: It happened; it happened frequently.”
Well, I suppose that’s one way to instill a work ethic.
I never had Parker do anything on family trips except maybe hold still long enough to pose for a vacation photo or two, and even that can be asking a lot sometimes. And when he meets other kids in the neighborhood or playground, the most that gets arranged is a playdate for him (and a opportunity for us to have an actual conversation with another adult, albeit one punctuated by calling out to our kids or answering their questions and requests).
But Schwartz made babies. He put his penis into his wife’s vagina and ejaculated right around the time she had an egg either rolling down her fallopian tube or already waiting in her uterus. Thus he qualifies for all the benefits and protections of marriage (and would even if he and his wife were infertile or past their reproductive prime). It doesn’t matter what happens after that, you understand.
It doesn’t matter if he reproduced and then puts his kids to work pimping for him. And don’t think that getting caught, busted, and sentenced to prison is enough to strip him of that right. Women are lining up to marry convicted murderers, after all.
Prison weddings in California are a regular occurrence. In general, about 20 inmates get married in ceremonies held on the first Friday of even-numbered months at San Quentin, and usually at least one condemned inmate is among them.
And Death Row inmates have no shortage of suitors. In fact, the more notorious the murderer, the less he has to work for female companionship, San Quentin spokesman Eric Messick said.
“You take our five highest-profile killers here, and you’ve got your answer about who the most popular inmates are,” Messick said. “I think it’s just the publicity that attracts people.”
Letters of adoration flow in daily to Death Row inmates from all over the world, some of them 20 handwritten pages long.
Richard Allen Davis, the man who kidnapped 12-year-old Polly Klaas from her Petaluma home in 1993 and killed her, “probably gets more mail than most,” Messick said. Richard Ramirez, the “Night Stalker” who killed 13 people and has more than a passing interest in Satanism, has women virtually throwing themselves at him despite the fact he is already married.
…Ramirez married Doreen Lioy, a freelance magazine editor, in 1996 after an 11-year courtship in which she wrote him 75 letters in prison. He was attracted to her, one of her friends said on her wedding day, because she said she was a virgin.
And it’s not just Ramirez either. Convicted murderers are hot marriage tickets to some people.
This is the phenomenon of women who are attracted to the scent of demonic males — fatally dangerous guys like Erik and Lyle Menendez, Robert Chambers and Scott Peterson. (Both Menendez brothers married in prison; Chambers was reportedly so besieged by transfixed females vying to smuggle him contraband that he had to be transferred to another jail; and Peterson has received at least two marriage proposals). The indubitably handsome and unlamented Ted Bundy was perhaps the archetypal demonic male, one who successfully posed as the dreamboat next door time and again, with the charm and verbal facility to knock the socks off any young woman unlucky enough to meet up with him when he was out cruising for prey. But while it would make for a simpler hypothesis if we could attribute the allure of inmates to their brute physical appeal, the truth is that even a one-eyed serial killer like Henry Lee Lucas had women panting after him, while John Wayne Gacy — no one’s idea of attractive and gay to boot (he killed 33 young men during homosexual encounters) — became involved with a woman in prison.
And it’s not just women either. Men take vows with convicts too.
On this Thursday afternoon in June 2003, McDonald would leave a newlywed.
Already wearing a gold wedding band he bought for himself, McDonald went through the usual metal detector checkpoint and pat-down before a guard escorted him to a small, beige cinder-block room that serves as the prison’s chapel. The space was far from a religious sanctuary, McDonald recalls, but compared to the cold, cavernous visitation room it was a welcome change.
Accompanied by his fiancée’s two teenage children, McDonald waited quietly for his bride-to-be.
Wearing her usual blue-denim uniform, Teresa “Deion” Harris was brought into the chapel by an armed guard. There was a brief ceremony, and when it was time to exchange rings, McDonald slipped the gold band off his right ring finger and handed it to Harris, who in turn placed it on his left hand. Prison regulations prevented McDonald from presenting her with a wedding band.
They were allowed a brief embrace, a peck on the lips and that’s all. After a few minutes of visiting with her new husband and two children, Harris was escorted back into the bowels of the prison, and McDonald made the two-hour drive back to Huntingdon without his new bride. “I just went home and opened up a can of Campbell’s Soup and that was my wedding night,” he says. Because conjugal visits are not permitted in Tennessee, a short kiss is the most affection they’ve ever shared as man and wife.
…Harris is one of three defendants serving life without parole for the murder of a 19-year-old man in rural Huntingdon, Tenn., on July 30, 1993. Authorities say the trio kidnapped the local college student when he stopped to help with their broken-down truck. After shooting him to death, they then dismembered his corpse. The victim’s charred remains were found the day after the murder without legs, a right arm, penis or heart.
The horrific crime shocked and angered residents of the small western Tennessee town, and rightfully so, says McDonald. But he insists that although Harris was present for the barbaric butchering, she was scared for her own life, not a willing participant, and therefore not some cruel killer sociopath.
Sweet, ain’t it? Notice that even though conjugal visits are not permitted in Tennessee that didn’t stop McDonald from marrying Harris. It didnt’ stop Richard Ramirez either, even though inmates on San Quentin’s death row are not allowed conjugal visits.
But the hubby and I? Not murders, not in prison, and not on death row. Also, not podding the fruit of our loins to work in the way Mr. Schwartz did. Nope. All we did with our kid this weekend was take him to his swimming lessons, to the library for our every-three-weeks trip to check out new books to read to him, buy him a new HotWheels car to replace the one he lost last week, and take him to the Equality Montgomery County cookout and ice cream social (which happened to be right next to one of his favorite park playgrounds). There we ran into one of Parker’s friends, who also happens to have two dads, and the result was that we were invited to a wonderful, impromptu fall supper in their garden, where the boys enjoyed playing each other.
But we don’t qualify for marriage protections no matter how much we love and how well we take care of our son because — according to the Maryland Court of Appeals — we didn’t and couldn’t conceive him. We merely stepped in afterwards, because the folks who could and did conceive and deliver him couldn’t care for him in the way he needed and deserved. They got him here, but we’ve signed on for the rest of the journey.
If we had or could have conceived him, it wouldn’t matter how well we did or didn’t take care of him. It wouldn’t matter if we were murderers, child molesters, drug addicts, abusers, or all of the above. I would matter what we did. No matter how bad it was. After all, even Scott Peterson — convicted of killing his wife an unborn child — gets marriage proposals and, if he accepted and/r found a woman willing to accept him, he could get married tomorrow. If, somehow, his sentence gets commuted and he gets off death row
It might deprive us of the right to be his parents, if the state determined it needed to step in, but nothing could deprive us of the right to get married and conceive another child, whose life we could destroy if we wanted and still not lose the right to marry and the benefits and protections of marriage.
Nothing, that is, except being good parents to a child we didn’t conceive. Parents, that is, who happen to be gay.