Quoting a news report:
Revocation of all marriage licenses issued in Nebraska in cases where no children are born within two years, making exceptions for physical disabilities when properly certified by a physician, was proposed here today by City Health Commissioner A. S. Pinto. Dr. Pinto announced that the [sic] would support such a bill before the Nebraska legislature.
Dr. Pinto also announced that he would support a bill requiring physical examinations of all applicants for marriage licenses.
“There is a growing tendency among men and women to enter the married state when both are regularly employed,” Dr. Pinto explained, “and after marriage both remain in employment and have intentions of continuing at work. In many cases, I would say their marriage is merely to legalize their living together, to give an air of respectability to their domestic relations.
“Many young women marry these days and remain in their work because of their love of jewelry, furs and their feeling of independence when comes when they are on a regular wage basis.”
The last sentence likely shows that this article was not of recent vintage, but was written back in 1924. But when I read it, it sounded very much like an article that could easily have been written within the last decade with regard to the many stated opinions regarding marriage and its declining numbers. Dr Alva S. Pinto was the Omaha health commissioner mentioned in the article. This article was written when the Roaring ’20s were still roaring loudly.
But it asks a very important question that is raised with regard to the gay marriage debate. A common argument brought up by anti-gay marriage proponents is that marriage is for procreation of children and raising a family. Yet there are many marriages that are childless by choice, and that number is rising, and also marriages by a heterosexual couple for which procreation is impossible: the marriage my late grandfather enjoyed before his death is one such example. Should we, therefore, revoke the marriage licenses of couples who remain childless by choice? Should married couples be given a specific time frame in which to have or adopt a child before their marriage license is basically null and void? And would you support nullifying the marriage licenses of childless couples?
As was reported in an article a few days later, his idea received a lot of negative feedback, including from his own wife:
Mrs. Pinto, on the other hand pointed out that if [her husband’s] law had been in effect when they were married they have been divorced many years ago. Their first child came more than two years after marriage, she said.
Dr Pinto’s motivation, however, was entirely eugenic in nature:
Dr. Pinto asserted that if something is not done to increase native stock the lower European races soon will control the United States. He advocated a law taking married women out of industry and providing annulment of marriages where there is no issue in two years, so that either party can try again.
Dr. Pinto declared his stand while discussing the Nebraska marriage law which provides for ten days’ notice before licenses are granted. He advocated strengthening the law by adopting an eugenics amendment forbidding epileptics to marry and insertion of the two years’ marriage clause.
Now while Dr Pinto’s motivation was not entirely honorable or respectable, the question still stands. Since hetero-exclusive marriage proponents constantly say that marriage is about bearing and raising children, should childless marriages be declared null and void?