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Ian David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-21-07 08:13 AM
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How Heterosexuals Remixed Marriage
by: TerranceDC
Tue Mar 20, 2007 at 22:12:37 PM EDT

I've referenced Stephanie Coontz's book, Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, before and am looking through it now to pull some passages for reference in an upcoming post. Of the books I've read on marriage, Coontz's is the most comprehensive take on how the "institution" has changed with every social change that's come down the pike. In fact, it's been in a constant state of flux. If you don't read any other book on the history of marriage, I'd recommend Coontz's book.

In the meantime, you can check out her recent op-ed, "'Traditional Marriage' isn't as Straight Forward as All That." (Love the play on words in the title. Don't you?)

Claims of historical fact about marriage can be proved true or false, and three of the historical claims made by opponents of same-sex marriage in Connecticut are demonstrably untrue.

First is the claim that the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman goes back thousands of years. Second is the claim that the Judeo-Christian heritage has always seen marriage as a sacred relationship that must be defended above all others. Third is the claim that marriage has endured for thousands of years without change.

Whether one is for or against legalizing same-sex marriage, we must understand that it is heterosexual couples who have been tampering with marriage for the past 200 years. Heterosexuals repealed the old laws mandating wives' subordination to husbands and prohibiting divorce. It was a lawsuit involving a heterosexual Connecticut couple that led the Supreme Court to overturn laws forbidding the sale of contraceptives, thus giving married people the right to decide not to have children.

Heterosexuals also pioneered assisted reproduction, allowing couples who cannot have children to become parents anyway. And it was heterosexuals who repealed the legal definition of marriage as the union of a husband who must play one role in the home and a wife who must play a different one.

Once marriage came to be seen as an institution bringing together two individuals based on mutual affection and equality, without regard to rigidly defined gender roles or the ability to procreate, it's not surprising that gays and lesbians said, "That now describes our relationships too, so why can't we marry?" If you don't like these changes in the institution, blame your grandparents, not the gay and lesbian couples seeking entry into this new model of marriage.

You'll have to read the rest of Coontz's piece to see how she catalogs the changes in marriage, or better yet read her book, but her point is that marriage has changed constantly, and what's referred to as 'traditional marriage' today is a relatively new invention that's already reinvented and changed as a result of social changes.

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