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Same-Sex Marriage Does Threaten “Traditional” Marriage

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Tiffany K. Wayne holds a PhD in History from the University of California, Santa Cruz and is a former Affiliated Scholar with the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Stanford University. She is an adjunct college instructor in U.S. history and a freelance writer and editor of reference books in women’s studies, literary history, and the history of science and technology. She is currently developing a high-school level curriculum for teaching LGBTQ history and literature.

Recently on Facebook some friends were passing around a quote by comedian Ellen DeGeneres who was responding to the charge that same-sex marriage will “threaten” heterosexual marriages. Ellen quipped:

“Portia and I have been married for 4 years and they have been the happiest of my life. And in those 4 years, I don’t think we hurt anyone else’s marriage. I asked all of my neighbors and they say they’re fine…”

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I get you, Ellen, but you’re missing the larger point.   Same-sex marriage does threaten “traditional” marriage.

Marriage equality is a threat to those who do not believe in EQUALITY between the sexes in general. Some who oppose marriage between two women or between two men believe that homosexuality is a sin, or that same-sex marriage harms children, or that it will lead to more divorces. But as I listened to the “protect traditional marriage” ralliers outside the U.S. Supreme Court hearings last week one unified message came through loud and clear: same-sex marriage threatens traditional marriage because it challenges ideas about proper gender roles.

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Same-sex marriage makes a lie of the very foundation of traditional gender roles.  Same-sex marriages say that a woman can run a household, or that a man can raise a child. This does not square with those whose lives and beliefs and relationships depend on upholding and living their lives based on differences between the sexes. Over and over on C-SPAN I hear people in 2013 arguing that both a mother and a father are needed in order to raise children – indeed, that children have a RIGHT to both a mother and a father. (And so, you see, proponents of same-sex marriage are not actually supporting the granting of rights, but rather the taking away of rights… of children. The twists in logic are mind-boggling.)

I am struck by the continual references from the traditional marriage camp to “the protection of the father” and “the tenderness of the mother.” To a view that only fathers can or should be breadwinners and only mothers can be caretakers. Traditional marriage defenders believe that a man is needed to protect and provide for a family – and a woman is needed to nurture a child. That a man/father/husband is the rightful head of the household and that a wife must submit to her husband in all things.

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It’s easy to eye-roll on this one, since many of us take for granted already that there are different forms a family can take and multiple or varying roles that individuals, rather male or female, can fill within a family – from single working moms to stay-at-home dads to grandparents raising children to egalitarian marriages.  But it goes deeper than that. Same-sex marriage threatens the very foundation of what it means to BE a woman/wife or be a man/husband. Who is in charge? Who will submit? Who will raise the children? Who is the man and who is the woman in the relationship? These are not questions of sex or sexuality, they are questions of gender. And when it comes to gender, same-sex marriage reveals the questions themselves as flawed.

I am struck in listening to the opposition to same-sex marriage by the persistent denial that gender is a socially constructed role. This is a “traditional” view of marriage in the sense that it is grounded in “biology is destiny,” or specific roles assigned based on sex. It is an extremely narrow view of “marriage” based on specific roles assigned by sex, rather than marriage as an emotional and physical and social partnership between two individuals.   Most telling, it is a view that denies that heterosexual people can be in egalitarian marriages, or should be. It is a belief in “traditional” marriage as hierarchical. Not as a true partnership of equals, but as a microcosm of society with a power structure that flows from husband to wife to children.

Therefore, opposition to marriage equality is opposition to equality.

I don’t doubt that most if not all opponents of same-sex marriage have a strong religious opposition to homosexuality itself and do not want to see the behavior sanctioned by law and society. Surely, they see the decline of civilization in the public hand-holding of Ellen and Portia.  But make no mistake – this is not just an opposition to homosexuality. This is the same opposition to single mothers. The same opposition to working mothers. And the same opposition to no-fault divorce. It is the opposition to feminists harping about men doing half the housework, and men doing it. AND it is the same source of opposition to reproductive rights.  What does same-sex marriage have to do with reproductive rights? Everything.

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An even more frightening argument against same-sex marriage that is blasting from my TV is that the state has an interest in “procreation” – i.e. who does it and under what circumstances.  This argument is not simply about who can or should raise children – indeed, it was pointed out by a lawyer during the U.S. Supreme Court hearings that many states already allow gays and lesbians to adopt and foster children, not to mention that some individuals in same-sex marriages (like their heterosexual counterparts) are raising children from previous unions. But the discussion about same-sex marriage and children goes deeper. It is about who should bear children and under what circumstances. In other words, controlling women’s reproductive behavior.  We often hear the case of Loving v. Virginia (1967) – the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case undoing the ban on interracial marriage – brought up as an example or precedent for expanding civil rights when it comes to marriage.  But equally as relevant to the current political climate, I would argue, is the 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut, in which the U.S. Supreme Court decided that married couples could use contraception.  Let me repeat that: the United States Supreme Court had to decide that a married woman could practice birth control. And if you think that decision is untouchable and safely entrenched in the history books, then you haven’t been paying attention to threats to access to not only abortion, but birth control, in recent political battles.

Make no mistake, the “traditional marriage” camp is coming from the same quarters as the continued opposition to and attacks on contraception, abortion rights, or no-fault divorce.  Along with same-sex marriage, all of these things DO threaten so-called “traditional” marriage because they empower individuals to make choices about their sexual and procreative lives. They threaten patriarchy, which is the real tradition here.   But to supporters of “traditional” marriage, the issue of marriage itself is not about privacy or sexual freedom. Indeed, I heard a traditional marriage activist say today that marriage has “nothing to do with personal intimacy.” That might come as a shock to those of us who view our committed relationships (legally married or not) in exactly those terms.

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Instead, the conservative/traditional view of marriage is grounded not in the pursuit of personal freedom or individual happiness or rights, but in gender essentialism – in the belief that the purpose of marriage is procreation and that woman’s highest role is as wife and mother. The questions in the Griswold case are the same as those in the debate about same-sex marriage today: What is the definition and meaning of marriage if it’s not about procreation? How to define the sexuality of women if not exclusively around reproduction?  Just as the Pill separated sex from reproduction, same-sex marriage threatens to finally separate gender from marriage.  (This is not to say that gays and lesbians in same-sex couples do not ever take on gendered roles within their relationships, only that same-sex marriage exposes the lie that gender is directly related to biological sex.) The lawyer arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court last week admitted that “the main concern [for opponents of same-sex marriage] is redefining marriage as a genderless institution.”  Let that sink in for a moment.

Opponents to same-sex marriage reject the idea that marriage should be redefined as “genderless.” Feminism has been arguing for genderless marriage – for marriage equality – for decades! Most of that focus has been on equality within marriage – in matters of housework, childrearing, and sexual satisfaction. Same-sex marriage is the next step in the struggle for marriage equality, but also in the broader struggle for gender equality. So, yeah, same-sex marriage does threaten traditional marriage. And that is why it is being resisted as vigorously as women’s rights and African American civil rights were (are) resisted.  It’s not just a matter of a “right to privacy” or live and let live. We are trying to argue it as such. But it’s more foundation-shaking than that. The opposition to same-sex marriage is opposition to a half century of feminist redefinitions of and challenges to “traditional” marriage that have brought us to this historic moment.  To quote Ellen one last time, “Asking who’s the ‘man’ and who’s the ‘woman’ in a same-sex relationship is like asking which chopstick is the fork.”

182 Comments Post a comment
  1. By contrast, current positions on sexuality are quite different. There it is those who demand civil rights in the face of discrimination which, in the US, are usually provided for ineradicable differences which are not chosen — black/white; male/female; able/disabled. Thanks to the First Amendment, religious adherence is another.

    Not so very long ago, in the early days of Gay Liberation, it was frequently argued that a preference for same-sex relationships, especially among lesbians, was often or even usually a rational choice. Unless an individual had been so effectively programmed that choice was unthinkable, the naturally bisexual or polymorphous sexuality remained available to a process of rediscovery.

    The Religious Right took a related position. Homosexuality, with or without sexual practices, was a perverse choice of lifestyle and/or a sinful sickness which could be be cured, whether by exorcism or psychological reprogramming, of the sort widely imposed on young members of cults. This descended from the anti-brainwashing notions of the Korean War period. Hence the constant complaints about lifestyle, the seduction of adolescents, and the entrenched resistance to the granting of civil rights.

    The Catholic Church has not taken this position, rather taking the line that homosexuality is inborn and a burden that must be borne, like many others. Prayer and celibacy are the only responses, but other Catholics should be symapthetic rather than prejudiced. [see the Catechism, where there is no great distinction from other forms of non-reproductive sexuality]

    In response to the Religious Right’s attack on lifestyle, created by inadequate upbringing (esp. absent fathers) or by bad choices, influenced by the mass media or bad company, gay activists have adopted the position that sexuality is inborn and ineradicable. Originally rejected, the genetic or congenital explanation for sexuality has been embraced, as one can see in every demonstration, public statement or legal argument in favour of equal rights.

    Thus, gender is fixed but sexuality malleable, for the Religious Right. Outside gay academia and the queer movement, advocates for equal rights see gender as malleable but sexuality as fixed. Both positions rest upon ahistorical and mono-cultural assumptions.

    The radicalism of counter-cultural choice has been swamped by the demand for equal access to suburban respectability and pension rights. Out of the long lists of rights that would be provided by the repeal of DOMA, how many would benefit the poor, the young and those more queer than the Log Cabin Republicans? All mention of the nightclub and the bathhouse has been carefully erased.

    April 2, 2013
    • I pretty much agree, David. As a feminist of 40 years and as a former exec of a major SF LGBTQ social services nonprofit, I and numerous colleagues attempted to discuss the strategic wisdom of focusing on marriage through another cycle, with our constituencies and the limited circle of major donors supporting our organizations in addition to the mega bucks they sunk into the Anti-8 debacle, As organizational leaders, we were of course very concerned about our ability to continue to provide desperately needed services for the LGBTQ folks struggling with homelessness, addiction, mental illness, HIV/HCV at the start of the economic crash which percipitated the new normal of multiple mid-year cuts to public finding and 24/7 budget battles as the state and local governments were faced with millions in shortfalls. We were concerned that if the marriage fight was to continue unabated, social service advances would be severely rolled back. We wished to consider LGBTQ strategic priorities from a broader, less elitist perspective. While 2010 and 2012 ballot measures were put on hold, the conversation has not evidenced much of what we were looking for. In my experience, individuals, especially gay men, are so personally attached to their heart-belief in marriage, that it is difficult to even talk about this.

      In any event my analysis of traditional marriage includes its original intent to control women, and thereby protect primogeniture. I agree with Tiffany…marriage equality threatens a lot more than heterosexual marriage…it goes to the every foundations of patriarchy and the dominator societies built upon it.

      April 2, 2013
      • pablo1paz #

        Thank God!

        April 3, 2013
      • As a massage therapist working all over the states with many populations of men over the last 5 years, I have noticed a huge number of clients who have been partnered for around 20-30 yrs. Many of these men came of age during the time of the Great Gay Plague, and most have said that they “chose monogamy over death”. What do you all think about the intense focus on marriage being a direct reaction to this disease, both by these men and the lesbians who worked so hard to bring AiDS into the public awareness? I realize this as an anecdotal generalization…still I believe it has some merit..
        Awesome article btw, as well as most of the comments. I am impressed!

        April 5, 2013
    • Fascinating commentary, Bravo!

      April 8, 2013
  2. Sorry. Not carefully proofread. A missing verb or two, as a result of breaking up overlong sentences.

    April 2, 2013
    • Yes, and also forgetting that, whether being Other is a choice or not – it’s none of your fucking business.

      April 3, 2013
      • daved #

        Anger issues? Nice Vocab!

        April 3, 2013
      • Pope Frank #

        I agree if two women or two men want to become one Isay WHY NOT, If they allowed Priests to get married maybe we wouldnt have so many children getting abused sexually.

        April 7, 2013
      • I imagine that you do not intend to conflate homosexuality with pedophilia, but the wording of your comment could be construed to do so.

        To be clear homosexuality does not correlate with pedophilia. It can be argued, however, that a celibate priesthood does.

        April 7, 2013
      • Exactly, Donna.

        April 11, 2013
    • If that’s what you’re taking away from this, I think you need to reexamine your priorities.

      April 3, 2013
      • scyllacat #

        What? Poor proofreading is not a sin of the highest priority? Heresy, sir! ~snark~

        April 3, 2013
    • SKC #

      I think you’re missing and/or avoiding the point.

      April 3, 2013
  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXlzkuFBJ7s Their argument states its just about “maintaining the integrity of marriage as stated in the Bible, between a man and a woman” … Its also states stoning “virgins” who marry but aren’t virgins; and its for hundreds of wives like Solomon had; and its for submitting to husband or risk death; and being able to give slave girls to the husband if the wife is barren, etc

    April 2, 2013
    • Kathryn #

      Same-sex marriage can’t be judged on religious grounds within the Supreme Court. Supreme Court makes judgments on legal cases, not religious fundamentalism. And any arguments that use the Bible or other religious references in this court case are sorely out of place. The Supreme Court isn’t deciding on the religious implications of marriage, they’re deciding on the legal ramifications of what constitutes a union of two people. There’s a big difference between the two. It’s about the law, not religion. Just put away the Bile and get out your Law Books.

      Thomas Jefferson believe that there should be a separation between Church and State. Our founding fathers, despite the current GOP propaganda, never intended for religion to steer any State decisions. Religion has no place in the court room or in state legislature. Our freedoms and rights are not based on any biblical rules. If you want to argue that same-sex marriage shouldn’t exist, then provide me with a LEGAL reason why it shouldn’t. Why two consenting adults should not be allowed to form a legal partnership and enjoy the benefits of that union. Don’t worry…I won’t hold my breath while you work on that.

      April 3, 2013
      • Mark #

        For me, I think the ridiculousness of this whole things stems from a religious term called a marriage. Yes, the term is used in the political arena and does signify the union that which this whole argument about “equality” stems. I ABSOLUTELY don’t want to deny any person their unalienable/civil right to something whether I disagree with it or not BUT, I do think that the terminology of calling the union between two persons of the same sex SHOULD not and cannot be called the same thing as the biblical term used to describe the covenant that a man and a woman enter into religiously.

        April 4, 2013
      • Carole C #

        That would be a reasonable argument, Mark, if ‘marriage’ was a biblical term. It’s not. Marriage existed long before the bible did. In its original form, a marriage was a contract between two men wherein one transferred land to the other. Sometimes, the receipt of the land by the buyer included the seller’s daughter, thus ensuring that the land would always stay in the seller’s family. So basically, the definition of what we call marriage today evolved out of a situation where a man sold a piece of land and threw his daughter into the deal as both a bonus to the buyer and an insurance policy for himself.

        Is that a tradition we should really be treating with such reverance?

        And while we’re talking about definitions–churches don’t perform marriages; they perform weddings. A marriage is secular, not religious, and has nothing to do with any church except for the fact that churches generally choose to recognize these secular unions, as long as they adhere to the particular church’s doctrines. Marriage–the legal part of a union–is a State affair; a wedding–the religious part of some unions–is a Church affair. As far as I know, there is no one arguing that churches be forced to participate in weddings that are against their doctrine, so why are they getting a voice in the argument over marriage? Considering our constitution’s adamant inistence on the separation of Church and State, churches actually have no business sticking their noses into the marriage debate.

        April 5, 2013
      • A. Bailey #

        Best argument I have yet seen. Thanks for your point of view!

        April 5, 2013
      • Sarah Nelson #

        My thoughts are that most of the argument for equality here is the desire to be recognized as eligible for the same benefits given to “traditional married” people by the the government. This type of benefit can be covered under what is called a civil union. The problem with the Supreme Court deciding upon the redefining the term “marriage”, doesn’t just deal with the rights of the couple to be recognized, it also puts in danger the right to religious freedom and separation of church and state. If it is determined that marriage becomes a genderless institution, what protects the rights to worship freely of the churches or religions that do not condone same sex marriage? How far will the government go in their decision? Will those churches that oppose same sex marriage be allowed to continue to follow in their religious beliefs? Or will they be pressed upon by the government (which is supposed to remain separate) to hold marriage ceremonies for same sex couples? An agreement for civil unions does not violate the churches who wish to keep traditional marriage as defined as between a man and a woman, and it gives the legal rights to the same sex couples, so why is the government trying to redefine marriage?

        April 6, 2013
      • Dave #

        Pretty simple…just call them uniond with equal benefit. One formed in the hurch called marriage the other in ghe vourt callrd a civil union

        April 7, 2013
      • Bob #

        “Our freedoms and rights are not based on any biblical rules.” Wow..for sounding pretty intelligent apparently you’ve missed quite a bit of history.

        Founding Father and educator Noah Webster (1758-1843) had this to say: “The moral principles and precepts contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”

        The Founders referenced 2 Corinthians 3:17 in support of freedom above all else. This passage states, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” The Liberty Bell declares from Leviticus 25:10: “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

        In a ten-year study undertaken at the Univesity of Houston, researchers examined 15,000 documents from America’s founders and determined that 34% of their quotations came from the Bible, the highest by far of any source.

        US laws based on the Bible? Let’s see:

        Bible: Exodus 20:13 13 “You shall not murder.”
        US Laws: In the US, a person convicted of murder is typically given a life sentence or even the death penalty for such an act.

        Bible: Exodus 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.”
        US Law: In the United States, laws vary from state to state. In those states where adultery is still on the statute book (although rarely prosecuted), penalties vary from life sentence (Michigan), to a fine of $10 (Maryland), to a Class I felony (Wisconsin). In the U.S. Military, adultery is a potential court-martial offense. The enforceability of adultery laws in the United States is unclear following Supreme Court decisions since 1965 relating to privacy and sexual intimacy of consenting adults. However, occasional prosecutions do occur.

        Bible: Exodus 20: 15 “You shall not steal.”
        US Law: Robbery, Theft. Someone who carries out an act of or makes a career of theft is known as a thief, and the act of theft is known as stealing, thieving, or sometimes filching.

        Bible: Exodus 20:16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
        US Law: Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding
        US Law: Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation. Fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent.

        Look, I’m not saying that because we follow these laws, that ARE based in biblical laws, we should all be Christians and and that the church should run the government and make laws.. It’s very clear that our government is not trying to establish a religion, and that’s what Jefferson was concerned about when he wrote that letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. But to deny that many of our laws of today are not based in Biblical laws is to ignore historical fact.

        April 11, 2013
      • Bob, just because the US has laws against murder and theft and there are biblical rulings against them does not mean that one was the source of the other. Given that the US’s legal system is based on English civil law (save for Louisiana, which is Napoleonic Code), you could argue that a good deal of the legal structure was actually derived from the Danes and the Druids.

        April 11, 2013
      • james benedicktus #

        Just to set the record straight about Thomas Jefferson, he used the words seperation of church and state in an address to the (state) University of Virginia, where he was trying to establish a school of religion. He did not mean the phrase to be used the way it has been portrayed.

        April 16, 2013
      • Edward C. Robson #

        True. Separation of church and state was a principle that had to be established over the years. In the colonial days, religious freedom in Massachusetts meant the right to hang Quakers for preaching their false doctrines. Even after we had our independence and our constitution, many states and communities still had religious laws. Catholics were executed in Pennsylvania for their beliefs. After the Fundamentalist movement started in the early 1900’s, its followers got laws enacted in several states forbidding the teaching of evolution, because it contradicted the literal interpretation of the Bible. It wasn’t until the Supreme Court ruled on a case involving Jewish schools in New York that we got the “separation” doctrine in its present form. That decision relied on elements of the 1st and 14th amendments and resulted in a 3-part test for evaluating the constitutionality of a state law. It is largely because of that decision that arguments before SCOTUS are no longer based on scripture.

        April 16, 2013
      • Edward C. Robson #

        Correction to my earlier post regarding the SCOTUS decisions of relevance here. Everson v. Board of Education (1947), (which involved state money going to Catholic parochial schools in NJ), most clearly affirmed the “wall of separation between church and state” originally named by Jefferson in his letter to the Danbury Baptists. Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971) established the 3-part “Lemon Test” for evaluating the constitutionality of a law that has been challenged as violating the principle of separation between church and state.

        April 16, 2013
    • John Hedtke #

      Wrong, Dave. My wife and I got married outside of a church. We very specifically had a ceremony that invited no gods to attend (we talked about this before the fact in those terms). We’re married. We are not civil unioned. Marriage is not a church thing. Marriage is a recognized legal contract that has nothing to do with churches. If churches want to perform marriages, they’re welcome to do so, but the states also have the right to grant marriage licenses and recognize marriages without any spiritual authority involved.

      April 11, 2013
    • Edward C. Robson #

      Any church in the US has the right to bless–or refuse to bless–any marriage, according to the principles and standards that church believes in. If a church thinks people should only marry in the manner most consistent with that church’s traditions, they have the right to preach that doctrine to whoever will listen. That’s freedom of religion, and no one is suggesting it should be abridged in any way.

      But marriage itself is a civil contract, which places it under the jurisdiction of our civil courts. Our lawmakers have decided that it is in the interest of society for people to marry, so they have enacted many laws (e.g. tax breaks, inheritance) that give special privileges to people who do so. To deny those privileges to a couple simply on the basis of a church’s disapproval violates the principle of separation of church and state.

      As for the references to the founders, yes, they did refer often to the Bible, even though very few of them were Christian in their beliefs, as viewed by modern standards. (The most popular religious denomination was Unitarian, and many educated statesmen were open about their atheism.) The truth is, they were not committed to religious freedom, except for the freedom to practice their own religion and force their neighbors to do the same. Both in the colonies and later in the states, people were imprisoned and even executed for their religion, with particular animosity being shown toward Quakers, Catholics, and Jews, before the Supreme Court established the principle of separation of church and state.

      That principle is still under attack and probably will remain so for a long time. There will always be those who think their convictions are “the right ones” and therefore wish to impose them on others. I just hope we do not lose sight of history, which teaches us that theocracy does not tend to produce benevolent leaders or laws, regardless of which religion it favors.

      April 11, 2013
    • Citogal #

      For Bob – John Adams was also a Founding Father, and in the Treaty of Tripoli (1797), stated the following:

      “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims]; and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Mohammedan] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

      With regards to the 10 Commandments, many religions and societies are founded on similar if not exactly the same tenets. To say that “thou shalt not kill” or “thou shalt not steal” started as a concept of a good way to live only AFTER Moses got the command from God implies that people did not have those values before. If nothing else, those values were practical for living in any kind of society.

      So, while the Founding Fathers may have had the best tenets of Christianity in mind as guidelines, the only thing that is said specifically about religion in The Constitution is about how elected officials are not required to have any faith to hold office.

      While this is fiction, I find this little speech by Joe Pesci’s character in “With Honors” to be quite eloquent:

      September 9, 2014
  4. Sharon Ellis #

    Thank you for a thought-provoking article.

    I suppose, having been raised with a mostly absent father, I rebelled against gender roles from the beginning. Having a father who comes home for a weekend once or twice a month and abuses you when he gets there gives you a less firm desire for a ‘traditional’ marriage. I missed the need for a big church wedding and didn’t care for tales of prince charming, either. In the light of the above article, I feel I understand my own aversion to the whole institution of ‘traditional’ marriage.

    It’s an epiphany of sorts.

    April 3, 2013
  5. scyllacat #

    This very thing has been rolling around in my head for a few months now, and for all I know, it could be Ellen (Degeneres) who started it. Thanks for connecting the dots.

    April 3, 2013
  6. I’ll admit that I’m one of those Catholics that David mentions in his comment who is opposed to homosexual marriage. I am glad that the author understands the argument (in part) we’re making, even if she doesn’t agree with it. That is an important starting point for dialogue about the issue.

    I would quibble with some of her conclusions, such as that traditional marriage is inherently hierarchical, but her fundamental understanding of the difference between our views is sound; she is convinced that gender is a social construct, we are convinced that it is a fundamental aspect of the human person. And therein lies the crux of the argument. If genders themselves are meaningless, then any combination is valid. If genders themselves have objective meaning, then one cannot simply substitute one for the other, or the other for the other other (if one holds that there are more than two or perhaps zero “genders”).

    April 3, 2013
    • I know people who are biologically female and gender identify as female and biological males who identify as males. And I know biological females who identify as gender male, and biological males who identify as female. I know one who identifies as neither. And I’m sure that’s not the end of the possibilities. And ANY two of those people should be able to marry if they want to.

      April 3, 2013
    • Christianity derives some of its deep, fundamental respect for the human being from the belief that human beings are created in the image of God. In nature (God’s creation, in Christian belief), human beings may be born male, female, or intersexed (not possessing the typical genital anatomy of males or of females).

      The fact that some human beings naturally do not fit neatly into the categories of “male” and “female” does not render the binary system of gender “meaningless,” nor does it mean that individuals who identify as a third gender (or, as another commenter mentioned, as non-gendered) are any less entitled to full human dignity. If God creates some of our fellow beings as not-male and not-female, on what basis should these fellow human beings be rejected?

      One would have to take the Biblical “male and female He created them” very, very literally to find any offense toward God or toward Christianity in the biological fact that binary gender does not cover every human being. To do so would deny that a baby born intersexed is created by God in the image of God – therefore, insisting on only strict binary gender robs certain human beings of the respect and dignity with which they should be treated.

      April 3, 2013
    • We have abundant archeological, anthropological, linguistic and textural (secular and religious) evidence of the fluidity of gender since the dawn of culture. Gender is not fixed, nor is it necessarily biologically sex-linked.

      A quick google search (these references are from Wikipedia) reveals illustrative examples such as the Two-Spirit People (also Two Spirit or Twospirit), an umbrella term sometimes used for what was once commonly known as berdaches (pron.: /bərˈdæʃɨz/), Indigenous North Americans who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles found traditionally among many Native Americans and Canadian First Nations communities.Third gender roles historically embodied by Two-Spirit people include performing work and wearing clothing associated with both men and women. The presence of male two-spirits “was a fundamental institution among most tribal peoples.”[1] Male and female two-spirits have been “documented in over 130 tribes, in every region of North America.

      In the culture of South Asia, hijras are physiological males who have feminine gender identity, adopt feminine gender roles, and wear women’s clothing. The Hijra sanaths are also known as chhakka in Kannada and Bambaiya Hindi. Hijras have a long recorded history in the Indian subcontinent, from antiquity, as suggested by the Kama Sutra period, onwards. This history features a number of well-known roles within subcontinental cultures, part gender-liminal, part spiritual and part survival. In South Asia, many hijras live in well-defined, organized, all-hijra communities, led by a guru.

      Additionally, we have increasing evidence of higher numbers of intersex individuals than previously understood, for obvious reasons: Intersex, in humans is a variation in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, and/or genitals that do not allow an individual to be distinctly identified as male or female. Such variation may involve genital ambiguity, and combinations of chromosomal genotype and sexual phenotype other than XY-male and XX-female.[1][2] As with all humans, gender identity for intersex individuals may often be complicated. Intersex infants with ambiguous outer genitalia may be surgically ‘corrected’ to more easily fit into a socially accepted sex category. Others may opt, in adulthood, for surgical procedures in order to align their physical sex characteristics with their gender identity or the sex category to which they were assigned at birth. Others will not become aware that they are intersex—unless they receive genetic testing—because it does not manifest in their phenotype. Some individuals may be raised as a certain sex (male or female) but then identify with another later in life, while others may not identify themselves as either exclusively female or exclusively male.[1][2][3] Research has shown gender identity of intersex individuals to be independent of sexual orientation although some intersex conditions are to also affect an individuals sexual orientation.[4]

      Socially constructed and reinforced, binary gender assignment, for many people and families, has brutal consequences, as does patriarchal and dominator (ie neo-imperielist/colonial) global hegemony.

      Incidentally, religion, when understood throughout history, is also quite fluid. The problem is that many do not know the historical, cross-cultural view of religion and become rigidly embedded in the dogma of their own personal tradition. Jes sayin’…

      April 3, 2013
      • I appreciate your scholarly approach, and enlightening cross cultural analysis of marriage. The problem I have with merely pointing out cultural diversity, is the next move in which it is implied, “Therefore we have an ‘ought’.” By this reasoning, if we can find it in the annuls of history, we should deem as ignorant and perhaps ‘bigoted’ those who oppose such; therefore, polygamy ought to be permitted…shoot, why not Skinner’s box? If we can be progressive enough to have genderless marriages, who’s to say we need marriage at all? But if we can somehow remove Skinner’s box by divine fiat (sorry, human fiat), then we can at least make a new ad hominim attack called,..poly-phobic for those who oppose polygamy, right? Obviously, I’m being sarcastic here, but the point stands on its own. All societies’ do make choices; all societies ‘limit’ and have reasons for doing so. Let’s at least have the conversation.

        April 5, 2013
    • Anthony John Woo #

      There is a fundamental difference between gender and sex as classifications (made confusing by the fact that they are often used interchangeably and that the terms used to describe them are also the same). Sex as a classification is biological. It is inborn. You have an XY chromosomal pair or a XX chromosomal pair which define you as physically male or female. But even biology isn’t divided strictly in two. Leaving sexual identity out of the picture for the moment (I’ll get back to it, but it’s cluttered up with gender roles), there are people out there who have two YY chromosomes or an XXY chromosomal set or a XYY chromosome set. So even in biology there are more than two sexes. Sex determines the biological fact of whether or not a person has the ability to bear children. That’s it. Gender is a sociological construct, related to but (and this is critical) NOT defined by sex. Gender is what role you play in society, not what sexual organs you have. In the past, gender roles were clearly delineated. Men were the breadwinners, women were the homemakers, and the justification for this was: “if God had intended men to stay at home with the babies, he would have given them mammary glands with which to feed them.” Of course, society, while affected by biology, is not defined by it. Just because a person has ovaries does not make them incapable of doing everything that a person with out them can do. And except for childbirth and breastfeeding, a person without ovaries can do anything that a person with ovaries can do. Which brings us back to sexual identity. Sexual identity is inborn, which makes it biological. However, our sexual identity is often tied up in our gender roles which complicates things from a sociological point of view. From a biological point of view, things are pretty clear cut. You have ovaries. Or you don’t. You have a sexual attraction to people who have ovaries. Or you don’t. (Or you have a sexual attraction to both people with ovaries and people without ovaries.) Biology doesn’t discriminate, doesn’t say things are wrong or unnatural. It just describes things as they are. Gender, on the other hand, is as mutable as the society it exists in (which is to say, as changeable as our minds). It has no objective meaning. There is no biological imperative that says that a man cannot care for a child as well as a woman (barring breastfeeding, of course). There is no biological imperative that says that a woman cannot go and gather resources as well as a man. As I write this, my infant son is asleep on the couch next to me while my wife is at work. Am I incapable of caring for him because I am a man? Is she incapable of doing her job because she is a woman? Of course not. I can raise my son as well as any woman and my wife can gather resources as well as any man. And if either of us were the same-sex as the other, the same would still be true.

      April 3, 2013
      • Nikita #

        > the justification for this was…

        The justification was that a male can be a father to much more children than a female can be a mother to (by several orderes of magnitude). Because of this males are demographically insignificant: even severe reduction in a number of males in a population has no lasting demographical effect, because the remaining males could produce the same number of children. Biologically, birthrates are by a large margin limited by females.

        Because of this, it is males who naturally fill social rôles associated with higher risks of death or injury—it’s just evolution and societies that practiced placing females in such positions didn’t survive.

        These factors are still very much in force in the large part of the world, basically everywhere outside of geographical and historical pale of successful welfare states.

        It doesn’t seem reasonable to claim that gender is not defines by sex, doing so ignores not only basic biological facts, but also the realities of present day world, where your well-being and freedom of choice are linked, by the global economy, to remote societies that still face harsh problems of survival.

        April 4, 2013
    • pablo1paz #

      By which you confess that you, like the Catholic Church and other religious objectors to same-sex marriage, are trying to Establish a Religious Definition. See U.S. Constitution, Amendment 1. As a member of a religion that does support couples of the same sex marrying, i am tired of your imposing your theology on me in the legal sphere where it has NO validity and no standing. Prima facie, the Supremes should throw it out. But those Catholics on the bench will not, so we’re all sitting around waiting to see if they’ve got guts and gumption to do what’s right. But of course we won’t even discuss that the oldest Christian marriage ceremonies on record are actually for the uniting of two men… Because, as Ann Harrison has clearly pointed out, religions change, cultures change, change changes… Get out of our way!

      April 3, 2013
      • pablo1paz #

        PS: BTW: When the book of Genesis says male and female God created them, it’s referring to one person – the “Earthling” or human, Adam. It does not say God created humans male OR female, it says we are all created male AND female. Just let it go gracefully. Quietly. Close the door silently as you go.

        April 3, 2013
    • I think ti’s a terribly long stretch to go from A) gender-related personality propensities, which I agree are inherent, to B) saying complete gender roles as they exist on our society tend to be inherent (very doubtful) to C) saying that uniformity in those roles should be pushed upon those who do not find them natural (which is outrageous).

      April 4, 2013
    • ” If genders themselves are meaningless, then any combination is valid. If genders themselves have objective meaning, then one cannot simply substitute one for the other, or the other for the other other (if one holds that there are more than two or perhaps zero “genders”).”

      Well, since gender has meaning for you, you can choose your marriage partner appropriate to your needs. Other people can arrange things to better suit themselves.

      As Ellen says, “Asking which one is the man and which is the woman is like asking which chopstick is the fork.”

      April 8, 2013
    • Stella Omega #

      If you agree with your church that the only proper marriage for you is a hetero one, you can choose a partner of the other sex to marry.

      And people who do not agree with your church will make their own choices.

      April 8, 2013
    • The Dancer in the Shadows #

      I am also Catholic, biologically male, and yet, in my everyday life, am often referred to as female. This has been the norm for me since grade school, and never bothered me. I hung out with the girls, we braided each others’ hair in the back of class. Into my teen years, walking with my arm around my girlfriend, we were most commonly addressed by those walking past us with some form of “Hello Ladies,” and we just giggled about it.

      Throughout my life, in nearly all of the “gender roles” type delineations, I have identified much more with the “female” role than I ever have with the “male” role. Even to the point of a couple close friends each having separately told me they think I “might be a lesbian trapped in a male body.”

      Perhaps because I was already so different from the stereotypical roles, I’ve never understood the majority of the resistance to same sex marriages. I do know a lesbian couple that has been together longer than my own (18 year) marriage lasted.

      Even in my marriage, I was the more sensitive and caring, and the one who could run the day-to-day household better. Laundry, dishes, sweeping, etc, were easy for me to keep a handle on. I cook and sew too. However, I was the primary breadwinner because my job paid six times what hers did. It wasn’t a matter of choice so much as it was necessity. We simply could not afford the basics if I was going to be the stay at home parent.

      There are many places where the Catholic Church has become its own biggest hypocrite example. And many other places where it should simply butt out. This is a place where it should simply butt out. In the current debate over the legality and/or Constitutionality of same sex marriage, no one is trying to tell the Catholic Church that it must bless same sex marriage, nor is anyone trying to tell the Catholic Church that it must allow same sex weddings. It would be a blatant violation of the First Amendment to try to.

      After the exceedingly controlling rules that so many fled to the Americas to escape, a large part of the founding principles could be summed up in this: “If you are not infringing on anyone else’s Natural Rights, you are free to do as you will. Your own Natural Rights reach their limits when the begin to infringe on someone else’s Natural Rights.” Stating that so bluntly was anathema at the time though. Even as much as they wanted to, they were unable to throw off their own prejudices entirely; to some extent they could not even recognize them as such, and we have had to work very hard to get as far as we have.

      As a Catholic, I fight against the Catholic Church’s official position on same sex marriage for one simple reason: my conscience tells me I have to because the official position is wrong.

      — The Dancer in the Shadows

      May 13, 2013
  7. “Ward I’m worried about The Beaver. He says he wants to marry Eddie Haskell. Lumpy is inconsolable.”

    April 3, 2013
    • tbennett92 #

      I would worry if The Beaver wanted to marry Eddie Haskell. Talk about asking for abuse! But I wouldn’t want Judy or Penny to marry Eddie either.

      April 3, 2013
  8. nana #

    Heinlein proposed that there were six genders, hetero male, hetero female, bi male, bi female, gay male, gay female,

    April 3, 2013
    • Anthony John Woo #

      Shouldn’t there be eight, counting asexual males and asexual females (people who have no interest in sex at all)? ^_^

      April 3, 2013
      • Wouldn’t there be still more, since not all people are male or female? Some people are transgendered (with both male and female organs) or intergendered (somewhere between male and female) or nongendered. Some are physically one gender and biologically the other (sometimes due to surgery). Or physically one gender while psychologically another. Each of these possibile genders could be attracted to one or two or 6 or more other or same genders. Isn’t this far more vast range of possibilities kind of wondrous?!

        April 4, 2013
    • deutschtard #

      That is wholly incorrect. The genders are Male, female, transgender(both), bigender, third gender, agender, neutrois, genderqueer, pangender, and there’s a lot of them that I’m not mentioning. The sexuality of an individual does not have an affect on their gender identity/presentation. The genitals they have is their SEX, and their gender is how they feel mentally about their body.

      April 5, 2013
    • I don’t think Heinlein had a lot invested in that one. You’ll recall the character that brings that up was raised by Martians, who have three genders, one of which is the form of an incorporeal god-being, so his interpretation of human gender would be influenced by his entirely alien perspective of gender/not influenced by our social programming. I think the point of that was to challenge assumptions that people might have about society (and maybe a little foreshadowing for the sexual liberation stuff at the end of the book).

      April 6, 2013
  9. Jimmy #

    This argument could not be more insulting to women and men. WHO ARE YOU TO DEFINE A GENDER ROLE?! Absolutely NO ONE! None of us have any right to judge another if we are NOT DOING HARM and no child who has been raised by a same-gender couple has gone on to do mass harm. Flawed argument, dated thinking. PLEASE progress and let men and women be FREE.

    April 3, 2013
    • Tony #

      i think you might have read her article wrong jimmy… i don’t think our writer is against progress, but is just for opening rational dialogue in which both sides actually see both sides.

      April 4, 2013
    • Tiffany Wayne #

      I am unsure if you are responding to my post or to one of the commentators?

      April 4, 2013
  10. wildegurl #

    With a 50% divorce rate, straight marriage is nothing to boast about! It’s failure has nothing to do with being straight, or does it? There is obviously something wrong there and maybe we need a fresh perspective on how to get along with each other. I welcome gay marriage because I suspect that woman-woman marriages may last longer than man-woman marriages.

    I respect ANYONE’s right to marry… and divorce. I question the need to marry at all, being that it is a legal institution that – currently – has nothing to do with love, sex, religion or procreation.

    April 3, 2013
  11. Matt #

    I’m a medievalist, and (believe it or not) I think that I can add something to this discussion. A medieval view of government relies upon continuous analogous hierarchies: God to world, king to lords, lord to subjects, husband to family. The pattern is what is most important, because it guarantees the coherence of the system, and the validity of faith in it. Therefore, when something threatens the pattern anywhere, the entire value of faith, not only in God, but in human organization itself is threatened. Highly rationalized faiths (like Roman Catholicism and most mainline Protestant denominations) have found ways to adjust, at last for threats like evolution, if not yet gay marriage; however, if resistance to rationalizing religion is a sign of virtue (as it is in a number of Christian faiths), the value of the pattern increases exponentially. Hence, the apocalyptic response we see consistently on the religious right.

    To really combat this, we need to offer a new ideology of human organization, one which does not depend on hierarchy, but which is also not the atomized, radical individualism of contemporary capitalism. This is not a compromise with religion, but it gives religion something with which to work. Otherwise, the Dostoyevsky-like argument that lack of faith means no grounding for any order, already advanced so often by the right, will continue to be tempting to the right, and all our eye-rolling will do nothing to convince.

    April 4, 2013
    • david #

      Live and let live…..

      April 4, 2013
    • Julianna #

      I find Matt’s Medievalist post very interesting. If, as he suggests, we need to “offer a new ideology of human organization…which does not depend on hierarchy,” might the Internet and social media be an excellent example? Everything and everyone is matrixed; there is little hierarchy to be had. People raised today (in all places in which web access is common) are being raised with this matrix structure deeply embedded in their “what’s normal” programming – even if they would not suggest such if asked. Perhaps this very thing will eventually bring about such change? (Perhaps it is already beginning. :-)

      April 11, 2013
  12. Mark Ingebretsen #

    I thought this essay was very useful and thought-provoking. I had no idea that the right to *contraception* was decided by the Supreme Court — that was an eye-opener to me.

    I disagree with some of the broad conclusions the author makes. I disagree, for instance, that gender is entirely a socially constructed role. Certainly there are aspects to it that are socially constructed, but I believe that those social constructions are reflections of the natural differences that do exist between genders. I don’t believe in “biological destiny,” but I do believe in the influence of biology. Men are biologically different from women, and because of this, they tend to have different roles in families.

    The problem occurs when social constructions, which by definition are limiting, prevent us from doing what we want or what comes most naturally to us. Some women are better at breadwinning than they are nurturing, and some men better at nurturing than breadwinning. Some women and men are equally good at both. For many families, both adults must win bread, just for the family to stay afloat. Social constructions need to change to reflect these realities, and to allow all couples the freedom to arrange their lives however they wish.

    I think that marriages can be egalitarian and partnerships of equals without completely sacrificing those differences that are grounded in biology. Can there be “genderless marriages”? Depending on how you define gender, then obviously, same sex marriages would be “genderless.” But in my opinion, “marriage equality” does not mean that marriage must be rendered genderless. Indeed, in my experience, even the most egalitarian marriages are not entirely genderless.

    The author claims that those who oppose homosexuality on religious grounds are by definition also opposed to reproductive rights, the right to divorce, nontraditional parenting, etc. While this may be true for some religious objectors (the author provides good examples), I know for a fact that this is not the case for all religious objectors. Some people I know who are relatively enlightened on many issues base their opposition to marriage equality on an (admittedly narrow) interpretation of the Bible. While religious objections cannot dictate public policy or law, the right to have religious objections must be respected. I would never want conservative ministers, for instance, forced by the state to marry people for whom the religion proscribes the sacrament of marriage.

    April 4, 2013
    • Katja #

      Well, sure, nothing’s genderless entirely, because gender does shape us – in part. But only in part. And the point of this is not that we must all have marriages where none of us care what sex we are – the point is that each marriage gets to decide for itself what roles individuals take, based on their individual talents and inclinations (which may be in part, but not always or entirely, shaped by biology).

      “While religious objections cannot dictate public policy or law, the right to have religious objections must be respected.”

      Sure. As we respect Catholics’ right to object to the remarriage of divorced people, for example, and to refuse to sanctify such marriages in their churches, while still keeping such marriages absolutely legal under civil law. No one is going to force ministers to solemnize any marriage they don’t want to – the First Amendment rather clearly protects them there.

      April 5, 2013
      • jimmy dean breakfast sausage #

        Exactly, Katja. I don’t force Catholics nor their religious orders to obey life by my morals, but I expect the same from them.
        I don’t want Catholics, or any other religion, or person telling me how to live my life when I’m not doing harm to anyone.

        Even if I am a male and I do the cooking and the dishes. Oh horror of horrors. And no one is forcing the Catholic church to marry anyone. Just because anyone can sue anyone for anything in the USA doesn’t mean they will win. We don’t base our laws on “maybe someday”. It would result in the worst kind of society, one straitjacketed by everyone’s concern about something that might happen one day in the future. It’s not just silly, it’s dangerous.

        April 11, 2013
    • Anne #

      Mark, your last concern is one of my biggest. It’s easy to see that in the not-too-distant future, ministers who have religious convictions against gay marriage will be forced to perform such ceremonies and face serious legal consequences if they do not. This may not be the current intention of gay marriage proponents, but it will happen. One doesn’t even have to be a “gloom-and-doomer” to see that coming.

      April 5, 2013
      • I don’t see how that could possibly happen. The only consequence I could see the government imposing would be loss of tax-exempt status. If they haven’t done that yet considering some of the crazy things some churches have done, they’re not going to do it over this. Not in a million years.

        April 5, 2013
      • Amber W #

        Ministers do NOT perform marriages, they perform weddings. That’s why a couple, even after exchanging vows and having a huge party to celebrate their new life together, still have to sign a marriage license. Otherwise, the marriage itself never happened. No one could technically force a church to perform a wedding that didn’t fall within their tenets, because that goes against the freedom of religion. Please understand the difference between a wedding (basically a ritualized ceremony) and a marriage (a legal union documented and governed by state laws).

        April 5, 2013
      • I doubt that most couples would wish to have their ceremony officiated by a minister who was being “forced” to do so. Would you?

        April 6, 2013
      • Anne #

        Amber, I had a similar conversation with a friend last night and I get your point. I guess what needs to happen is for us to entirely separate religious ceremony from civil contract, meaning pastors no longer say “By the power vested in me by the state of…” As Mark commented, many European countries have both with no confusion between them.

        Ann, no, I don’t think anyone would want that but I could see a lawsuit coming out of that.

        April 6, 2013
      • Gayer Than Thou #

        As you probably know, ministers and other religious figures are already completely free to discriminate on religious grounds when deciding whom they will and won’t marry. A rabbi, for example, would be well within her rights to refuse to marry two Catholics who have not converted to Judaism. Indeed, the rabbi could even refuse two marry two Jews if, in her view and according to her beliefs, they weren’t the “right” kind of Jews. That’s because of the First Amendment. The First Amendment would similarly apply to same-sex marriages. If a minister or other religious leader didn’t wish to perform that ceremony, he or she would be completely free to refuse to do so. The claim that ministers are going to be sued for discrimination is a bit of a red herring in this conversation.

        Now, religious bodies could be sued for other reasons. When, for example, a religious organization operates as a business like any other, it can often be sued for discrimination. Suppose, for example, that a church operated a wedding center that was available for rent without regard to the religious beliefs of the people renting it. In that case, I think it could not discriminate against same-sex couples (assuming state or local law that prohibited such discrimination), and it could be sued for discrimination in public accommodations. But those are two different things, and it’s important to keep them separate in this conversation.

        April 9, 2013
      • John Hedtke #

        Except, Anne, that the power to marry in this country is not granted by the church, it is granted by the states. It isn’t necessary to say “By the power vested in me” if people don’t want to; that’s just window dressing. But that’s where the power to marry comes in.

        I have performed a number of weddings myself and about the shortest practical ceremony is this:

        Officiant: “Do you want to marry her?”
        Groom: “Yes.”
        Officiant: “Do you want to marry him?”
        Bride: “Yes.”
        Officiant: “You’re married.”

        Equally important to the stating of intent to wed is the signing and registering of the license, without which, the marriage is not legal. (This may vary some from state to state, but that’s the gist of it.)

        The authority to marry is granted by the state; specifically, usually by the city or county registrar’s office or the like. This has been the cause of a number of lawsuits when such offices refused to recognize religions THEY DIDN’T LIKE, such as Wicca, Buddhism, and Native American practice, which means that the power to marry is not automatically recognized as a religious right.

        In the HIGHLY unlikely case of a minister being asked to marry someone they didn’t want to, they can refuse. If this is something that goes against their personal views, they should refuse. If this causes them trouble–and it’d be a longshot–they should recognize that being a minister is not easy and they did take an oath to serve their god as they see fit.

        April 11, 2013
    • Mark Ingebretsen #

      Amber W, I think that a big part of the problem is that in our culture, the ritualized ceremony has blurred with the legal union. Authority is vested in ministers by the state. Ministers perform quasigovernmental functions and justices of the peace perform quasispiritual functions. Other countries maintain a better distinction. In many European and some Latin American countries, the religious ceremony (optional, from a legal viewpoint) must be held separately from the legally required civil ceremony.

      April 6, 2013
    • Mark I – I know it’s been a while since this conversation, but I wanted to thank you and agree with your opinion stated on April 4. Took the words right out of my head. :-)

      July 12, 2013
  13. Love it! beautfiul and succinct writing! Thanks <3

    April 4, 2013
  14. Cody Beverage #

    This is not true. My brother is a stay at home father, while his wife is the bread winner! That’s not traditional. Is someone going to.tell them that their ways of life is messing up their kids. I don’t think so.

    April 4, 2013
  15. “What about the CHILDREN??” is so intellectually lazy an argument I don’t even know where to start. And also, despite being a staunch feminist, agnostic liberal, I’ve somehow found myself in an extremely traditional marriage, structurally. Which is wacky, but I think qualifies me to say that I actually don’t believe same sex marriage threatens anything. Challenges, maybe. But it’s not going to stop people from entering into marriages based on traditional gender roles because that works for some people and that’s OK. It works for my husband and me, almost in spite of ourselves. Ha!

    April 4, 2013
    • Marriage equality doesn’t necessarily threaten individual heterosexual marriage, whether the gender roles in those marriages are normative or not. Like women’s liberation, racio-ethnic civil rights, disability rights, etc., marriage equality threatens the unacknowledged, subaltern intersecting oppressions required for the STRUCTURE of patriarchy. It goes to the structural framework of a patriarchal, dominator society.

      April 4, 2013
  16. Samantha #

    Two women or men are just as capable of raising good children as a man and a woman. They’re also capable of having normal lives… with normal jobs, normal houses, normal chores, they pay their bills like everyone else, they do everything we do. Why is it not okay for them to be happily married but a woman can be married to a man and that’s okay. We’re all humans. We all have hearts, livers,eyes,arms, brains… the only difference is a few body parts. Some have “innies” and some have “outties” why can’t two “innies” be together or two “outties”? Because people in this world are judgemental and don’t care about anyone but themselves. Love who you want to love and let others do the same!

    April 4, 2013
  17. Dr. S. L. French #

    Thank you so much for this article (which I will share widely). I have come to detest the word “traditional” so much, noting that it almost always is associated with some revocation of rights or oppression of a group. I learned that all roles were negotiated within marriage when I saw my father (retired when I was in my teens) making dinner and my mother (who returned to work after staying home for 25 years to raise children) sitting a the dinner table reading the newspaper. This was exactly the opposite of what had happened for the first 13 years of my life. It was an epiphany! And this is what I explain to my students–that gender is a construct and roles are negotiated within or outside of those constructs for many reasons. Those students who resist understanding and accepting that are usually resistant to change of any kind–as are adults. The answer is education.

    April 4, 2013
  18. Reblogged this on BarkingShaman.com and commented:
    This is a fascinating and extremely well reasoned argument that marriage equality *is* a threat to “traditional” marriage as social conservatives see it. Dr. Wayne argues that marriage equality puts lie the notion that marriage must automatically involve rigid social roles as defined by gender, which some people who are deeply invested in a patriarchal concept of male and female roles in a relationship will find threatening.

    In particular, I liked how the author tied the arguments in favor of marriage equality back to the SCOTUS ruling that permitted the use of contraception by married women, which wasn’t a point I’d seen made recently (in part because the pro-equality position avoids any mention of sex at all costs).

    April 4, 2013
  19. Very thought provoking; love it! I hadn’t thought of from that angle… Thank you for the new prospective. ;)

    April 4, 2013
  20. I am so glad that someone else has noticed this! I have sought out discussions with conservatives for many years, and the emphasis on “the balance of both male and female qualities” in a relationship, and “healthy gender role-models for children,” raised a red flag for me, too. I challenged one correspondent (male) what the “appropriate gender role” for a woman was, and he told me that he wouldn’t bother, I was a feminist and he already knew I’d object to it.

    The demonization of homosexuality and the subjection of women have not always been a part of Christian teaching. They began in the mid-1350s, with the Catholic church making a grab for political power. They have *always* been about power; about reinforcing and defending a patriarchal hierarchy.

    April 5, 2013
  21. Fascinating read and definitely an angle I hadn’t considered before..

    April 5, 2013
  22. H’mmmm. When you quoted Ellen, “Asking who’s the ‘man’ and who’s the ‘woman’ in a same-sex relationship is like asking which chopstick is the fork”, as though marriage can be definitively genderless, seems to reflect the blindness of ideology at work. The last time I checked, biology does reflect destiny – at least to this extent – women are made to carry, nourish and then finally – bear children. If that is offensive to anyone, I suggest taking a biology class.

    The issue of roles is quite another matter, and certainly has elasticity. But the notion that an enlightened view of marriage is that it is, or can be, genderless, or that biology is not destiny is risking the charge of stupidity. Assuming the intelligence of the person who posted this, I can hear the response now, “Oh, yea, well…but….” But this kind of destiny is no small matter, and makes the mantra of a genderless society idiotic. So while culture is malleable, and therefore diversity of cultures regarding men and women roles assumed; biology is definitely destiny! Even the brave new world has its intrinsic limitations.

    Understandly, the author of this post does not take up the issue of ‘defining’ marriage. Consistency would demand that this author come clean, and to escape the charge of bogotry must concede that it is quite arbitrary to stop at gender. What’s wrong with multiple? Oh, those poly-phobics!

    April 5, 2013
    • Rachel #

      Nate, women aren’t “made” for anything. A woman is no less a woman if she never has children. Biology reflects potential, not destiny.

      April 5, 2013
      • crabapple #

        “Biology reflects potential, not destiny.” This cuts right to it! Distilled perfectly.

        April 5, 2013
      • Chattie #

        Thank you! 27% of women in my age range have chosen not to have children; that doesn’t mean we’ve “failed” as women.

        April 5, 2013
    • nick #

      Straw man arguments aside, the notion of multiple genders does have its precedence; people who identify as bi-gendered certainly qualify under this.

      Also, the biological nature of women is not what is being argued against; what is being questioned is the perception of society and its assignment of traditional social gender roles based on biology in a culture that no longer adheres to it as much as it did in the past; it has evolved to the point where being biologically female does not automatically make one the “housewife”, nor does being biologically male automatically make one the “head of the house”. Those roles can be chosen by any person in a relationship based on how they decide for themselves.

      Your argument on gender roles is an entire paragraph based on a false premise. When did the author argue for a “genderless” society? It was posited that gender was a socially constructed idea, and could be malleable based on how people define it. Rather than “genderless”, I would say that this would open up the concept of gender to be dynamic based on how people define themselves. As to how this would affect marriage, you have yet to come up with an argument.

      April 5, 2013
      • jimmy dean breakfast sausage #

        Oh Nick. Your so wrong. Don’t you understand, you must have a vagina to be able to cook or do the housework. Otherwise the universe will start rotating the wrong way, and the end will befall us all. Plus men wouldn’t have any clean underwear, and they would have to buy new underwear every week. Also, as I’m sure you understand, you must have a penis in order to hold down any decent kind of career. After all, no woman has ever worked or had a career. It’s just not possible. Because of the estrogen, you know. It makes them unable to hold down a job.

        That’s why so many man wind up single fathers these days. Because women want to work but can’t support themselves because their estrogen get in the way, they must rely completely on the men to support them. It’s Natures way, and says so in the Bible. Somewhere. I’m sure it outlines exactly what the duties are of husband and wife. Who and how to run dishwashers, washing machines. I think it’s right after the part that says slavery is OK, and the other part that says it’s OK to kill your children if they talk back. The Bible. It’s full of moral goodness.

        April 11, 2013
  23. Thank you for this profoundly well-written article. It offers a fresh and important perspective that reveals the true roots of this issue. I hope it continues to spread throughout social media. So many slow claps.

    April 5, 2013
  24. Hmm. I see where the author’s coming from, but I think that’s one of the biggest reasons to let EVERYONE marry. Because SOCIETY *MADE UP* these stupid gender roles, and now we just follow them blindly. Honestly, there is no law or actual order from anyone or anything saying “MEN ARE NOT ALLOWED TO WEAR PINK, IT IS A GIRL COLOR” or “WOMEN MUST NOT BE THE PRIMARY BREAD WINNERS”. All of these things are made up to protect men and keep them from feeling inferior. Gender roles were borne out of the idea that men had to be better than women and that they had control. We’re arguing against misogyny and all sorts of other things related to disparity between the sexes. So if everyone can get married regardless of what it says on their birth certificate, maybe we will finally understand that the only person saying OH NO YOU CAN’T DO THAT BECAUSE GENDER ROLES is ourselves, and we have the right to change them if we want(and we should because most of the stereotypes of gender roles are bullshit)

    April 5, 2013
  25. Brian Long #

    Same sex marriage is a threat to those who do not believe in EQUALITY between the sexes in general, as racial equality does not carry well with those who do not believe in racial equality in general. To rid the world of bigotry is a slow slow process – but that’s what it boils down to. When someone says “well, I don’t mind gays, but….” they are being a bigot…and I’m abliged to tell them so!

    April 5, 2013
  26. This article and virtually all of the comments following it are built upon a terribly wrong premise arising from the writer’s obviously cursory observation that those arguing against same-gender marriage before the Supreme Court were doing so on the basis of gender-specific roles for husbands and wives. The operative term of the above lengthy sentence is “cursory”, in so far as the writer hasn’t done much homework. She misses the fact that conservative Christians in the US have been engaging for decades in a deep and difficult debate between “complimentarians” and “egalitarians” — between those who do believe in different gender roles of function/authority and those who believe that the husband and wife are truly equal in all ways (the only differences being simply physiological). Yes, the complimentarians are determined to promote male “headship” along with a 1950’s version of role functions. But the egalitarian evangelicals — there are MANY of them!!! — are completely supportive of equality in every respect. Please, please, please: if you wish to make a reasoned argument, do not demoniize your opponents by making sweeping mischaracterizations. You haven’t appreciated it, when others have done that to you, have you?

    Jack Haberer, Editor
    The Presbyterian Outlook – pres-outlook.org

    April 6, 2013
    • The Supreme Court is also not bound to the definition of marriage as set forth in the Bible, because the US is not a church. There is no establishment of Christianity as the rule of law. Follow it in your own time if you wish, but no one else is required to be bound to your faith. The debate within the church body about how a marriage should be lived out remains there. It is not the function of government to solve your theological squabbles.

      AS it is, you are speaking from a point of Christian Privilege, which is a big problem here in the US. Read this article carefully, and understand the viewpoint of someone that is a minority, the 22% of the country that doesn’t identify as Christian.

      http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2012/05/list-of-examples-of-christian-privileg/

      April 7, 2013
      • Well said.

        April 7, 2013
      • To Sarah J.: Let me be clear. I am a Christian, and hence I benefit from “Christian Privilege” – I am a part of the religious majority in our country. I enjoy lots of other privileges: I’m a white, heterosexual male, raised by parents with graduate academic degrees in a comfortable, suburban home with an excellent public school system. I totally get the point of identifying with those who don’t enjoy such privileges.
        As a member of the majority, I also happen to oppose “majoritarianism.” I believe that I am obligated to fight for the rights of minorities, for those who have been denied the rights I have take for granted. I feel deep shame for ways in which I have participated actively and unknowingly in systems that have oppressed others.
        And I totally believe in separation of church and state. Hear me clearly: I do not believe that the government should promote Christian convictions as the rule of law – except where such convictions (like “do unto others as you would have done to you,” “do not murder,” “do not steal”) correspond to the consensus of justice applied fairly and needed equally by all.
        The definition of marriage has historic origins in the Bible, but in the USA, it should not be defined or circumscribed by the Bible – a book considered holy to some of us, but not to all. It should be defined by secular, universal principles of justice, especially protection of the vulnerable. Those principles necessarily include the care of children, and the far prevailing experience of society through the generations has led to the wide perception that children generally do best when raised in a two-parent, male-female, married-till-death-do-us-part home. Our experience with single parent homes and same-gender parent families was very rare until the recent 50 years – a tiny slice of time in comparison to millennia of human life on the planet.
        Hence, it only stands to reason that those enjoying the majority experience of a male-female-marriage-with-children as constitutive of family relationships would resist changes to such a structure. It also stands to reason that those defending that institution so constructed will utilize whatever arguments – some of them spurious – they can to sustain their arguments. Those believing those arguments to be flawed – folks like you – have every right to make your case in response to such arguments, including dissecting the flawed assumptions and reasoning being promoted by the others.
        My one appeal to the writer of this essay and to you as well is to pay closer attention to those whom you define as your opponents. Please don’t make sweeping judgments of all of us just because some see same-gender marriage as a threat to a definition of gender roles that has more to do with the Victorian era than with the Bible. Many of us believe in gender equality BECAUSE of the teachings of the Bible and our commitment to Christian doctrines, not in spite of them. We also know that the GLBT community is not defined by the most extreme eccentricities of a Gay Pride parade. We ask you not to define us by the most extreme eccentricities of the most reactionary conservatives among us.
        I’m simply asking you to show the majority the kind of attentive respect that want from us. I believe I owe your that attentiveness. Do you believe you ought to do the same toward us – toward the many of us who are not your worst nightmare?

        Jack Haberer, Editor
        The Presbyterian Outlook http://www.pres-outlook.org

        April 8, 2013
      • Wow, what a well thought and written response. It is so difficult, being a gay male who has in past suffered so from the so called white patriarchal system, and watched others in my immediate sphere of other races and creeds and genders suffer so from the very intended and clear demonization and suppression, even torture, at the hands of the so called Christian heirarchy, to see clearly that there are many of your faith that actually follow the teachings of Christ. (Sorry about that run on..there is alot of emotion connected to this.) And I always work to find myself actually listening to my fellow humans, regardless of where they are coming from..that said, what we are speaking about is the institutionalized damning of huge segments of the population, under the pretense of the so called rights of religious people to lord over others because of some words written long ago…
        The probem is those Christans (and remember how they often brag about themselves, remember the Moral Majority, and then recently the Million Mom’s) that seem to wield such great power over politics and society, just because they claim moral authority! It is the Christian element in Uganda, for instance, that has decided to make homosexuality punishable by death, for the first time in that country. And this is rampant all over the world. And of course I include other fundamentalist religions here as well.
        I commend you Reverend, if you are working within the Christian community to shift things back to the reality of Christ’s teachings. It is a brave thing. We are not fighting you. Just realize we are fighting for our lives. This is not some academic or even ethical argument. This is an evolution we are all a part of.

        April 8, 2013
    • Tiffany Wayne #

      Thank you for reading and responding. The main thrust of my post was directed to very specific comments coming from both the lawyer arguing against same-sex marriage and speakers addressing a pro-traditional marriage rally outside the proceedings. I certainly acknowledge that these individuals are not representative of all opponents to marriage equality NOR representative of all Christians NOR was this the only argument offered to make their respective points. It was just the point I wanted to focus on and I stand by my overarching analysis that this point of opposition is in line with, and largely coming from the same quarters as, those who have resisted other changes in women’s status and gender roles. Thanks again for taking the time to respond. I appreciate everyone’s thoughtful comments so far!

      April 8, 2013
      • A quick word of thanks to TIffany for acknowledging that we Christians are not all as bad as are the most outspoken worst among us. And special thanks to the magnanimous response of Philippe. Oh my, I totally know that the oppression you have suffered means that you are not fighting just an academic or merely ethical debate; you surely are fighting for your lives. And so, in response to your great attempt to hear me out, do know that I’m hearing you all the way. I have no illusions about my capability to grasp the pain you have suffered. But I — and many of my colleagues — do try to stretch our imaginations to reach at least into the direction of where your roads have been and are continuing to take you. From the heart… grace be to you.

        April 8, 2013
  27. Adqkid #

    I am a male. I have been attracted to men as far back as I can remember. I didn’t choose to like the boys on the playground over the girls when I was in elementary. I just like the boys. What was a choice however was living a “straight” life and dying that fact I like other guys. Today I am a gay man of 29. I do believe in God. Outside of homosexual issues, I disagree with a lot of liberal stances. i believe in marriage and what it stands for, both gay and straight. Currently I live in a place where in the “straight community” being gay is wrong and in the gay community “being conservative” is wrong. Both sides play into stereotypes forcing those of us in the middle to steep back into a closet of some kind. Those are my thoughts.

    April 6, 2013
  28. appliedepistemologist #

    Hmm. As a human being in female form with a brain more typical of a human being in male form, I’ve never been convinced that this stuff is simple. I don’t consider myself transgender; it’s simply that I’m not neurotypical for my phenotype. Neither was my mother. I grew up in a male/female two-parent household, and for most practical purposes it had two fathers.

    The Catholic explanation of innate gender was presented to me many times, usually nicely, while I was in my teens, and it never made sense to me when I tried to apply it to myself. It simply doesn’t fit my experience of being human. I can see that it works for some other people, with their own perceptions of being human, and I recognize that I’m not in charge of their experience. I’m not going to tell them, “I know this doesn’t work for you, because it doesn’t work for me.” That wouldn’t make sense and it wouldn’t be respectful or fair to them. But I require the same consideration for myself and for others for whom that model doesn’t work.

    Because of my nonstandard gender identity I’ve had a life that has forced me to keep looking at these issues. My existence itself is a refutation of many limiting ideas about gender, not just of the Catholic understanding of it. I decided during those teen years that a gay human being is a human being. I mean, a full human being. Nothing inherently wrong about it. That was nearly 40 years ago and while I’ve re-examined that conclusion, the conclusion itself hasn’t changed. It was a conscious commitment to choosing love that led to it, and that commitment hasn’t changed.

    “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Marriage as an institution should serve human need, and human need is not exactly the same for one human being as it is for the next. People who are committed to each other for life often can benefit from the framework that marriage provides. Society benefits from such stable commitments, whether dyadic or poly; making legal marriage available on a basis of equality supports them.

    As human beings, we can in fact choose love. Sometimes, if we work at it, we can even grow up. Can human institutions grow up? I hope so.

    April 6, 2013
  29. Norine #

    Very interesting article and comments. I’ve come to believe that gender roles arose out of necessity of the times. Long before the Industrial Revolution changed our society and how we live, the roles of males and females became entrenched in traditions that made sense at the time. It is much easier for a pregnant female to stay home (wherever or whatever that meant at the time) and for the man to hunt. It would have been impractical to give birth or bring a baby on a hunt (remember there was a time without baby bottles and formula), therefore, it made sense for men to be “breadwinners” and women to be “housewives”. I believe religion reinforced these roles and supports the notion of male dominance and superiority, based on these traditional roles. Even today, most people steer their children in the direction of gender specific roles and ideas. How many baby showers have you been to where you shop blue for boys and pink for girls? How many easy bake ovens do little boys get? How many little girls get toy trucks? I’m sure you see it more now than when I was growing up, but I never could understand it. I grew up playing with boys; there were no girls my age, so I played with both girl and boy toys. I had much fun with both. Gender specific roles no longer apply in our society in the way they once did, but it will take time before we think differently in this regard. It’s about choice. I believe being homosexual (or other) is not a choice and people should not be discriminated against (certainly not hated) for it. Marriage, however, is a choice and one we should be able to make for ourselves, regardless of gender or sexuality.

    April 6, 2013
  30. Krista Selby #

    After reading the article my eyes were opened even wider. Though I am a believer in equal rights for all, and the right for all to marry, the history of gender roles are being confused with sexuality. The church will continue to press forward with their thought process of homosexuality being a sin. We will never change that. However, as I listen to the young people of today, many are very open and believe that everyone is equal. I do believe that we will see marriage legal at some point for everyone. Many Christians are “scared” of traditional marriage going to the wayside, even though there is no evidence this will happen. By allowing everyone to commit and take on the responsibilities and opportunities that marriage allows through the federal and state systems actually helps the economy and hopefully enlighten the nation to the fact that there is no difference in love. Everyone has the right to love who they please, to marry with all the responsibilities and legalities it affords, and to raise children in a loving, caring home. As we see divorce rates increase, and single parents are no longer looked down upon, it gives me hope that this will also carry over to the gay community. As I am in a lesbian relationship, and was married to a man for 20 years, I see no difference other than two women who love each other. Gender as defined by society is no longer the norm for our country, as women have become the breadwinner and the husband the stay at home dad. Can’t we all just rejoice in two people loving each other enough to commit? Hopefully….one day :)

    April 7, 2013
  31. Katie R #

    What drives me nuts about this debate is the religious aspect of it. Let’s not pretend that the ONLY reason this debate isn’t an open-shut case – as I do believe it’s pretty clear in science and history that gender-identity is just as inborn as sex, and that U.S. law should not by any means obstruct the civil rights of law-abiding citizens – is due to Christianity. Not morality – Christianity. Those two ARE similar, but NOT the same. The U.S. government is based on Kantian ethics of morality – that human beings are unique in that they have dignity based on their ability to choose freely what to do with their lives, and they have a fundamental moral right to have these choices respected. The other subsidiary rights to this philosophy are as such: 1) the right to the truth (e.g. factual evidence) that may significantly affect choices; 2) the right to privacy in personal lives (so long as we don’t violate the rights of others); 3) the right not to be injured, unless we freely and knowingly do something to deserve punishment and risk such injury; and 4) the right to what has been promised by others (e.g. in contract). So… 1) Research on brain functionality and genetics supports that homosexuality is biologically predisposed, while research does not show that same-sex marriage harms children raised by such couples or otherwise. 2) Homosexual couples deserve the same privacy as heterosexual couples, which means not having their sex- or emotional-life under question by the public or the law, given that it does not violate any others’ rights (as there is no right to be comfortable with others’ decisions and, as previously noted, children are not adversely affected by it). 3) It could be argued that homosexuals do not “freely” engage in homosexual acts and therefore do not deserve harm or punishment. Homosexual acts to a homosexual are as “free” as your decision to sleep in a bed rather than on the floor, in that it is “freely” made because it is the healthier decision. It’s more comfortable, if you don’t it will cause damage over time, and the choice has no direct, significant affect on others. And 4) all law-abiding citizens of the U.S. have been promised life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the nation’s greatest contract between government and people.

    I thought it was interesting that an earlier commenter pointed out that the Catholic church recognizes homosexuality as an inborn disposition that must be bore by the individual. I wonder why that sentiment is not broadcast? I have always wondered why Christians are even fighting the law being changed. I’m not a Christian, but in Catholic school I learned that God gave us free will because he wanted us to CHOOSE him. Makes sense – if you can’t choose God over something more tempting because you have no free will, then the act wouldn’t be all that special. So why don’t Christians see this as a test to mankind? If the law allows homosexual marriage, wouldn’t that just up the ante for Christians who choose God anyways? God seemed to have a habit of throwing his followers in the desert to be tempted by the Devil when he wanted them to prove their love for Him. Isn’t this the same? Making the choice to God more difficult just seems to make it more meaningful for Christians… what’s the problem, then?

    April 7, 2013
  32. Hey everyone – Jacki here – the co-founder and executive editor of Nursing Clio. This has been an absolutely fascinating discussion. I am very proud that this post has created such an intelligent and well-mannered debate. If you’ve posted a comment and it hasn’t appeared in the thread it means that you somehow violated our commenting policy. This means your comment probably included name-calling or rudeness.

    As our commenting policy clearly states:

    “While we at Nursing Clio value the free exchange of ideas and opinions, we reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments of an abusive, absurd, irrelevant, or nonsensical nature. We require that posted comments meet our standard for civil discourse. As in the salons of previous centuries, boorish behavior will not be excused.”

    April 7, 2013
  33. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/04/06/5000-year-old-transgender-skeleton-discovered/

    Not sure how to link this…5,000 trans skeleton believed to be found…

    April 8, 2013
  34. epynephrin #

    The comments about how “it takes a man and a woman to raise a child,” have always bothered me as the child of divorced parents. My mother more or less raised my sister and I, and we were lucky that my father fought hard to have a presence.

    In my book, claiming that two women can’t raise children says even worse things about one woman attempting to do the same. My mother is an incredible woman, and the implication that she couldn’t do what she did solo is insulting.

    April 8, 2013
  35. Reblogged this on Queer Landia and commented:
    If my sexuality and/or my relationship truly threaten the stability of outdated, socially constructed, baseless and oppressive gender roles, then they are weapons of mass destruction that I am only too happy to wield.

    April 8, 2013
    • Tiffany K. Wayne #

      Thanks for reblogging!

      April 8, 2013
  36. Thank you for your viewpoint.I wholeheartedly agree.The lines of female male roles should not be altered and only lead to confusion about what is expected from a male or female.

    April 8, 2013
    • Tiffany K. Wayne #

      It’s not clear if you are responding to my original post or to one of the previous comments? In my post I am certainly not saying that gender roles should not be altered… quite the opposite. :)

      April 8, 2013
  37. Bill #

    “They threaten patriarchy, which is the real tradition here.”

    Oops. Do they not threaten matriarchy as well? Are you saying that there are no mothers against same-sex marriage?

    Here’s the thing. What I would like is for someone to go out an find all of the oldest references to marriage in writings…not just the Bible. What I’m looking and what we should be seeking is a definition of the word itself. If you find the oldest references of marriage, and they all essentially state that it is the union of one man and one woman, then is that not the definition?

    See, I can change the words to associate to different definitions that describe unions. From now on I will refer to unions in this fashion.

    Man and Woman – MarriageForReal
    Man and Man – Marriage
    Woman and Woman – Marriage
    Man and Woman and Woman – MarriageAlot
    Woman and Animal – Sick

    Then I’ll say

    That man and woman are married for real.
    That man and man are married.
    That woman and woman are married.
    That man and woman and woman are married alot.
    That woman and animal are sick.

    In saying that, I have to ask – is it the rights that you want or the word…or did you just want something because someone else had it? If the latter is the case, in 2000 years will you want MarriageForReals instead of just Marriages?

    April 9, 2013
    • Bill – I’m pretty sure that patriarchy, in this context, is not about individual father’s beliefs about same-sex marriage. Matriarchy is not the opposite of patriarchy, or about individual mothers’ beliefs about same-sex marriage. Dr. Wayne’s post, as I understand it, is about the structure of patriarchy, which is the political, economic, cultural system under which most societies are organized and function. In this piece, marriage is understood to be an institution that reinforces the structure of patriarchy.

      Patriarchal social organization predates the bible, but regardless of when and how the first textural reference describes marriage, why should this be the final word on its current social expression? If this were our cultural methodology, we would still have slavery, human sacrifice, public stoning and other various social norms documented in the bible and elsewhere.

      At the personal, relational level, for LGBTQ individuals and their families, access to marriage holds various personal meanings, just as it does for straight folks. Unlike straight folks, one of these meanings is that of full inclusion in the social fabric of our society, in other words: equality. At the level of our ever-evolving “more perfect union,” marriage equality is about civil rights, period.

      However, at the macro level of the deep patriarchal structure of society, which in my view, is at the heart of Dr. Wayne’s post, same -sex marriage challenges the very foundations of patriarchy by asserting that patriarchal beliefs about gender, specifically about the place of women, and by extension, the other marginalized groups.

      For more on the relationship between homophobia and patriarchy, see John Stoltenberg’s brilliant book, Refusing to be a Man ( 1989, 2000).

      For an excellent overview of matriarchal social systems, see Societies of Peace: Matriarchies Past, Present, and Future, edited by Heide Goettner-Abendroth (2009).

      April 9, 2013
  38. JayJay #

    Oh please! Hey, if you want to believe in what you call traditional and proper gender roles then have at it. I could not care less because it’s none of my business. And if you want to raise your children to believe the same that’s just fine and dandy with me as well. I’m certainly not going to tell you what you can or can not do. I only ask that you not discriminate against me for having a different belief about gender roles. Get it?

    April 9, 2013
    • Tiffany K. Wayne #

      You are completely missing the point of my post, unless you are responding to one of the comments above?? If you read beyond the title of my post you will see that I am arguing AGAINST traditional gender roles.

      April 9, 2013
  39. Bill #

    I’m pretty sure that the words “human sacrifice” and “public stoning” still mean the exact same thing they did thousands of years ago when used in conjunction with each other. I’m not talking about ethics, I’m talking about definitions. I’m saying, this word was created to specifically define this specific circumstance. Now, you are saying you want a different circumstance to be defined under the same word. It seems to me that you want the word and don’t care whose belief system your actions may or may not infringe on. Rights, at this point, are secondary.

    April 9, 2013
    • Well, fair enough re: the definitions of “human sacrifice” and “public stoning” But maybe you should think about ethics, Bill.

      In terms of definitions, however, many do evolve and change over time. I expect you’ll recognize these lines from our founding document, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The definition of “equal” at the time applied only to white, male property owners. Only they were endowed with these “unalienable rights,” poor people, women, Native Americans, and enslaved African- Americans were not so endowed, nor were they enfranchised. In our “pursuit of a more perfect union,” we have expanded the definition of “equal” significantly.

      You write: “you want a different circumstance to be defined under the same word [i.e. marriage]. It seems to me that you want the word and don’t care whose belief system your actions may or may not infringe on.” Bill, I feel I have to point out that this appears to be a bit of projection on your part. I could easily argue that you are, in fact, the one who seems not to care whose belief system your actions may or may not infringe on, including the belief systems of lots of straight folks.

      I’m pretty sure not all straight folks share your belief system or definition of marriage. I know lots of straight folks who think marriage is unimportant, a joke even. Also there are polygamists, open marriages, serial monogamists, marriages of convenience,
      arranged marriage, financial marriages…all of these are based upon straight people’s beliefs about marriage. Gay men and lesbians also have a wide variety of beliefs about marriage.

      Which is why the Declaration of Independence refers to the endowment of “certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This reference to rights is in there so that one cannot assert as you do, that ” Rights, at this point, are secondary.” Well, one can assert, but one would be wrong. The reason for these RIGHTS is to prevent the “beliefs of one group, usually those in the majority, from infringing upon the RIGHTS of others, usually, except in the case of women, those in the minority. And given the givens of human diversity, our system of governance was established, primarily, to achieve this.

      P.S. There are those who claim that the very first textural reference to marriage defined it as a union of two men based on property ownership. I haven’t corroborated this claim, but wouldn’t it be a hoot if true?

      April 9, 2013
      • Bill #

        The last comment you made actually made a legitimate argument…if the definition of marriage was that two men created a union then there could be an argument over what the original definition was. Now, you mention polygamy and these others. When I read polygamy, I read marriage between one member of one sex and multiple members of the other sex. When I read open marriage, I read open union of one man and one woman. When I read marriage of convenience, I read union of one man and one woman for convenience, etc, etc. It’s the definition that was created a long time ago. Here is the problem I see. If our oldest definitions of marriage stem from religious texts that say it is a union between one man and one woman, doesn’t it seem ludicrous to attempt to be redefining it? Particularly when those religious texts specifically call out the thing you want to include in the definition as an abomination? Now, if there are older texts which state it doesn’t matter who or what is involved in a union in order for it to be called a marriage, then I believe the argument becomes far more valid.

        Here is something I wish people would consider. When these things were written long ago, what do you think the reason for purposely not including homosexuals in their definition was, going so far as to say they will absolutely not be included? Were the ancients just homophobes? Why would they do that?

        April 9, 2013
    • Tiffany Wayne #

      “When these things were written long ago, what do you think the reason for purposely not including homosexuals in their definition was, going so far as to say they will absolutely not be included? Were the ancients just homophobes? Why would they do that?”

      The short answer is that my post speaks *precisely* to this point. That marriage has historically been about controlling women’s reproduction and securing property rights (in children, in inheritance), and so there was no need to address homosexuality (non-procreative sex) in the context of marriage as a patriarchal social institution. Your comment and question here brings it around to my original point: i.e. that same-sex marriage is a challenge to “traditional” definitions of marriage, and that’s a good thing.

      April 9, 2013
      • nmz787 #

        Seems to me marriage was implemented to reduce philandering.

        April 9, 2013
      • Bill – My references to polygamy, open marriage, marriages of convenience, etc were simply to point out that many straight people do not ascribe to your belief systems about marriage, which according to you is defined by “religious texts that say it is a union between one man and one woman.” The point is that there are many belief systems about marriage, not just yours, therefore is unreasonable to assert that yours is the only valid one. In any event, your choices of issues to address only serve to distract from the point of the original post.

        Your last question goes to the point of the original post. You ask, “Here is something I wish people would consider. When these things were written long ago, what do you think the reason for purposely not including homosexuals in their definition was, going so far as to say they will absolutely not be included? Were the ancients just homophobes? Why would they do that?

        They defined marriage as they did because it was meant to be a contract about property…wife and any property she brought to the marriage (dowery, money, land, slaves, etc) and eventual children as property of the husband. The wife had no rights to any of the marriage’s assets, including her children. This was not a romantic contract with any regard to love, etc.

        This is the answer to your question and I’ve actually considered it at length, for years and can tell you that this information is readily available for your review…including in the bible if you read it. Not that religion should have any place in the conversation about equal civil rights.

        April 9, 2013
    • nmz787 #

      Bill is right about definitions. If the Church was Apple Inc., they’d be suing all the people that are calling their union a ‘marriage’ over copyright or trademark infringement.

      April 9, 2013
      • Carole C #

        No, sorry, but he’s not. The Church did not come up with the term ‘marriage’ nor did it define it until the 14th century–well after its origins in prehistory. There were people getting ‘married’ way before the Bible, and not all of those participating in it were of opposite sex.

        Minimal reading in historical texts will show you marriages between people of the same sex in ancient England, Rome, Greece, China, Ireland, Germany, Native America… it goes on. Pick up a history book. Look up a definition of marriage that wasn’t written by a church. Good grief, you can’t even dip into a cursory history of the ancient Celts or the Gauls or the Pagans without coming away with at least a small education in the male/male dynamic.

        Just because the Church has appropriated the word ‘marriage’ does not mean they own it or that they invented it. Marriage existed before Judaism or Christianity did, and it existed in varying forms in varying lands. If the Church wants exclusive rights to a word to define the unions they’ll sanction, that’s fine–let them invent a new one. It’s all theirs. Just because they want ‘marriage’ doesn’t mean they can just take it and horde it for themselves. It doesn’t belong to them.

        April 9, 2013
    • Tiffany K. Wayne #

      “Seems to me marriage was implemented to reduce philandering.”

      Good point – but don’t assume that’s for moral reasons. The problem with philandering – historically speaking – is that paternity could not be established. Back to issue of property rights.

      April 9, 2013
  40. nmz787 #

    “(And so, you see, proponents of same-sex marriage are not actually supporting the granting of rights, but rather the taking away of rights… of children”

    No I don’t see how having the RIGHT to a mother and father takes away any other RIGHT to the kid.

    April 9, 2013
  41. Define marriage…

    April 9, 2013
    • **crickets, crickets**

      Does the no reply mean the author has no definition of marriage? If so, how does she say anything at all about it since it is an undefined concept?

      April 10, 2013
    • Tiffany K. Wayne #

      It is not an undefined concept. You and I may define it differently – in religious or social terms – but that does not mean it’s undefined. For our purposes (that is, for the Supreme Court’s purposes), marriage is a recognized legal family unit. For better or worse (pun intended, haha), the state has long ago determined it has an interest In promoting marriage and so it confers certain rights and privileges upon married couples and families.
      In this blog post I am debating the social terms or consequences of same-sex marriage, but the question before the Court is not whether a certain type of marriage is valid, in religious or sexual or even social terms, or whether it “changes” marriage, but whether it is unconstitutional to deny rights to one specific group of citizens that are already enjoyed by other citizens.

      April 11, 2013
      • It’s undefined in this article, which is why I’m asking you to define marriage according to your understanding of marriage. The one you gave as the working “concept,” allegedly used by the Supreme Court, is by no means a definition.

        If I had to guess at your definition I’d say it has something to do with the legal recognized union between two people who love each other, or something to that extent. You were bold enough to write the article, I’m only asking you to be bold enough to give your definition of marriage so that I can make sense of what you have to say on the matter.

        April 11, 2013
      • Marriage is a social institution that is in essence a legally binding contract between two adults, currently in most states a male and female adult. This contract ascribes certain rights (such as tax benefits, inheritance, next of kin privileges in hospitals) and responsibilities (such as care of children if there are any) to the individuals in the couple that can only be dissolved by divorce. Some folks love each other when they enter into this institution, some marry for other reasons.

        April 11, 2013
      • Ann, that’s a fairly sterile definition of marriage. Sounds like any other legal contract; one may as well be making a real estate transaction as the boundary lines set by your definition allow for pretty much any sort of interpretation one may with to make.

        That’s my first push-back, my second would be according to your view there is absolutely no reason why marriage (as nothing more than a legal contract with the purpose of allowing mutual tax, hospital, inheritance and other like benefits)should be denied to same-sex couples (since it is essentially a meaningless term at that point), but by what authority do you make such a case for the definition of marriage? In other words, for the vast majority of mankind since the dawn of civilization people have had very different ideas about marriage than what you propose, what makes yours the one that should be considered by the US Supreme Court?

        Why not push for legislation allowing for the same rights and privileges for “civil unions” rather than marriage? That makes a lot more sense and I think you’d have buy in from the majority of your opponents.

        April 13, 2013
    • Tiffany K. Wayne #

      It’s not a sterile definition – marriage IS a legal contract, that’s exactly what we’re talking about. We’re not talking about romance here. It doesn’t matter if I define MY marriage in terms of committment, love, sex, loyalty, etc., we are talking about the legal rights accorded to marriage, which are nothing new. I disagree that “for the vast majority of mankind since the dawn of civilization peole have had very different ideas about marriage than what you propose.” NOT AT ALL. Marriage in Western society has ALWAYS been about rights – to property, to citizenship, to women’s reproductive capabilities – whether formally set down in law or regulated informally by social and moral codes. Indeed, the idea of marriage as romantic love is what is NEW, historically speaking.
      We (marriage equality proponents) are not redefining marriage as a legal concept or asking the Supreme Court to consider different “ideas” about marriage, per se – we are just asking for expansion of rights to include more people. That is it, plain and simple.

      There are many books about the history of marriage for anyone interested. In the U.S. context I would start with Nancy Cott’s _Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation_. (Harvard, 2000).
      If you want to go even further back in history, to ancient times, take a look at Gerda Lerner’s _ The Creation of Patriarchy_ (Oxford, 1986).

      April 13, 2013
      • Ah, but everyone is already included, we are all held to the same legal status of marriage – i.e. I am only allowed to marry one woman, I am not allowed to marry a man; a gay man is held to the same standard, thus there is no inequality from a legal standpoint. If marriage is to be whittled down to a mere legal contract for the reasons mentioned above (taxes, inheritances, etc) then I as a straight man should be able to marry any other man for the sole purpose of gaining such rights, which could come in handy if my male friend and I want to secure extra tax benefits, etc.

        Do you see where this is going?…

        There is no inequality happening here. However, if you want to argue that same-sex marriage is more than a mere legal contract and inject an enormous amount of moral reasoning/debating, that’s a whole separate issue. But I’m fairly confident that neither you nor any other same-sex proponent is willing to make the moral argument for the simple reason that one must argue by what “authority” they make such arguments. In short, they must argue that their moral reasoning is superior to their opponents, which is impossible and it becomes a stalemate. The same-sex crowd does not want a stalemate, thus they reduce the debate to a ridiculous level – that of being a mere legal contract.

        Again, why not just argue for stronger civil union rights?

        April 13, 2013
    • Tiffany Wayne #

      You think you’ve uncovered some loophole in the logic of claims to inequality, but it is my argument that it IS sex/gender-based discrimination for the law to dictate that you can only marry a person of the opposite sex.

      April 13, 2013
      • Its discrimination that you cannot marry multiple persons of the opposite sex. Why stop with one? I’m a raging polygamist; and it wasn’t my choice, I was born that way.

        Back on task… I think I’ve uncovered that you do not have an actual working definition of marriage, except to say that its a “legal contract.” You want marriage to be undefined in any serious sense, and this is the “logic” that I’m interested in uncovering about your article. Those of us who oppose same-sex marriage do it for the sake of preserving what “marriage” means and not for the purpose of discriminating against gays and lesbians.

        Btw, are you opposed to bisexuals marrying both the man they love and the woman they love? If not, why the inequality?

        April 14, 2013
      • Edward C. Robson #

        But why should more definition be required than that it is a legal contract? That is what it was for centuries before religion (or love) was brought into the equation, centuries before Christianity even existed. It was necessary to make the contract legal and binding, because property and inheritance rights depended on it. If you look at the proliferation of laws and customs regarding inheritance as determined by parentage, sex, and birth order, it becomes obvious that marriage had far more to do with property than it did with religion. In fact, the wife and children were treated as the man’s property in most legal systems.

        The church’s role, when it had a role, was to bless the union, not to validate it. When the church was powerful, that blessing was important. The church generally had stricter rules than the state, such as the Roman Catholic prohibition of remarriage after divorce, but the church’s rules only governed those who chose to be governed by them. People could still be married by civil authorities, ships’ captains, or ministers of faiths with different rules, and as long as the proper legal papers were filed, the marriage was valid.

        As others have pointed out, and as is obvious from even a casual reading of the Bible, one-man-one-woman is actually a fairly recent definition, a change from centuries of polygamy. Other variations have been recognized in other cultures at other times. Religion has not always been involved in getting married. The one constant has been property and inheritance.

        You want marriage to keep on being what YOU think it ought to be. Fine. So stay within a church that agrees to bless only that type of marriage, and you’ll be happy. But marriage is a civil contract, and it should be the right of any two adults to enter into that contract and enjoy the privileges the state offers as an incentive for doing so.

        April 14, 2013
    • Tiffany K. Wayne #

      My view is that opponents to same-sex marriage missed the boat on “civil unions,” which have been proposed and passed at the state level for years now, withou bi-partisan support at the federal level. Instead, opponents put their energies into DOMA.

      April 13, 2013
    • First of all, I appreciate your dissenting voice, Eric. It makes the conversation that much more interesting, even if most of what you say seems spurious and nonsensicle, to me.

      I actually am of the opinion that polygamy is fine…for those who choose it, as well as polygyny ( a woman marrying more than one man). There is historical context for both of these situations in many cultures. i think maybe the reason polygamy is outlawed in most cases, and rightfully so, is that it has been used in the past as an excuse for child sex slavery. The harems of old, and the mormon culture are two examples. When three (or more) adults enter in to such a relationship willingly, I can find no reason for objection.

      Also, re civil unions. First, that term is very loose, and has been defined in many ways. So one state will have it mean some things, and another leaves out certain aspects, including rights, in the definition. Marriage, as a legal state of being, had a long term definition, and so is more desirable.
      Also, there are a great many gay and lesbian Christians, who actually hold the word marriage in high value, and they would like to be have the right to be at the table.

      April 14, 2013
  42. Thank you for a very informative article.

    April 10, 2013
  43. Awesome article!!

    April 10, 2013
  44. Tinywheels #

    In regards to Carole C’s comment about same-sex marriage in antiquity and in non-Western cultures, I want to add something. Many of these ancient and non-Western customs did not relate to homosexuality as we understand it today– that is to say, a specifically sexual relationship. Some of them related to nonsexual relationships, since other cultures have been more expressive of emotional passion in friendship than we are, and often treated close friends literally as family, with corresponding ritual and economic obligations. (An example of this would be the medieval Catholic custom of gossipry– a ceremony joining “siblings before God,” who, like other siblings, were expected to be nonsexual.) In other cultures, it didn’t matter whether the relationship was sexual or not. (Some ancient Greek writers made this assumption– the friendship was the key source of passion, and whether it was expressed sexually or not was simply irrelevant.) Some types were sexual but had more of the flavor of our concept of transgender–one of the partners in the marriage took on the opposite sex-role within the society. And yes, other types of “gay marriage” are more like the type that is being proposed today, specifically referring to a sexual relationship between two male-identified or female-identified people.

    Yes, of course, some people we would understand as sexually “gay” could have their relationships celebrated by calling themselves “siblings before God” and not telling anybody they have sex. But it is anachronistic and ethnocentric to assume that that is the only way they could feel strongly for each other. In fact– and I say this as a bisexual man– nonsexual same-sex love is the most common type, and in most non-Anglo cultures it is expressed rather more effusively than we do here in America.

    I want to add that I am a strong supporter of marriage equality– my main concern is that it does not go far enough, since it legally excludes more-than-two-partner households and makes the continued cultural assumption that sexual relationships are always more worthy of ritual respect. So I am not a conservative. Homosexuality in the sexual sense is fine– I do it myself sometimes! But it is not the same as same-sex love, and to respect same-sex love requires us to go beyond what even most radical Gay Liberationists are willing to consider. Not only is love tender and knowing no gender, as it were, it also knows no sexuality. There are many people in our culture who can’t imagine a friendship being as “passionate or deeply felt” as a romantic relationship. But there are also many people in other cultures where that is a key assumption– even our own ancestors defined friendship as “the highest form of intimacy” in Samuel Johnson’s 18th century dictionary, and the word derives from an Anglo-Saxon term meaning “beloved.”

    And there are many people in our culture who remain attached to spouses after the sex has faded from the relationship, or to lifelong friends. If you truly believe sexuality is necessary for a long-term relationship, how can you explain the existence of lifelong friendship at all? And yet, it exists worldwide, in almost every culture, even in those cultures that claim friendship is not that important.

    No, love knows no gender, and it knows no sexuality– as we can see from the diversity of past relationship celebrations, neither homosexuality nor heterosexuality is innately required for a significant chosen relationship between people of either sex. We have come a long way in understanding this as a culture. We still have a long way to go.

    April 10, 2013
  45. Momanddad Sing #

    I have played the role of mother to my children without thought or hesitation. I did the traditional things usually associated with females. Cooking, cleaning, bandaging, wiping of tears, school meetings. At the same time I was doing the traditional male role. Attending sporting events, practices, Heck, on senior recognition days I got the mom flowers they give out at the games! And I am damn proud of that. Never thought of “roles” really. I did what needed to be done. My ex took over the sometimes “male role” of excessive drinking, staying out all night and cheating. I guess we were cutting edge in our lifestyle. lol All this opposition to same sex marriage stems from not religious beliefs, but economics. Insur, co’s and others that have to cover spouses want to limit the payouts. I don’t really think they give two nugents who marries whom, they just don’t want to cover twice as many spouses. The idiots in the religious right (wrong) are being used to fight this. They are too stupid to realize what’s going on. Thye are used as a voting block to fight anything that benefits everyday Americans and makes corporations and millionaires pay their fair share. None of them are protesting divorce. Divorce is the real assault on marriage. No one is protesting extra-marital affairs that lead to the break up of hundreds of thousands of traditional marriages. Jeebus Cripes, Limbaugh is on his fourth wife and Newt is on his third. That’s the sanctity of marriage? Not a word about it. It is all a smoke screen to hide the agenda.

    April 11, 2013
  46. Absolutely marvelous. It is nice to see someone else writing about the ties between heterosexism, cis-sexism, and sexism in general.

    April 11, 2013
  47. Hekie #

    Excellent article. I’m doing a write up for my Facebook on why marriage equality matters, in response to those in the queer community who consider it a frivolous issue focused on weddings and cake. I plan to post it on Wednesday evening New Zealand time, which is when full marriage equality should pass its final reading in our parliament (we already have civil unions, this is to allow for marriage and amend adoption laws). It’s very exciting and a time for celebration even as we also keep a close eye on the US Supreme Court.

    I found this article by Googling one of my two key reasons why I believe that marriage equality is revolutionary, to see whether anyone else had written something convincing and clear (I’ve read other similarly-themed pieces in the past so I knew they were out there). I’ll link to it in support of what I’ve written because it goes into more detail about my own point. Thank you, and I agree that marriage equality is a major threat to heterosexual marriage as it exists today because it cuts to the heart of the issue of gender and dominance/hierarchy. I’m actually very glad that conservatives have not been able to elucidate a clear response to “how does this threaten your marriage?” because I honestly think that talking more about this particular destabilisation of heterosexual marriage would really rally support for the anti-equality groups in a way that, “Gays: ew, God told me so” does not.

    April 13, 2013
    • Tiffany K. Wayne #

      Thanks so much for the feedback and glad you found my post.

      April 13, 2013
    • Heki, I agree that it’s good that the anti-equality crowd hasn’t come up with a clear articulation of how same-sex marriage threatens straight marriages. For me, on an individual level it doesn’t threaten individual straight marriages. And this is where most of their rhetoric remains: pandering to personal ignorance, prejudice and fears.

      If any of their ilk is actually capable of unpacking the issues regarding patriarchy and gender to make such an argument, they would be acknowledging the intersectional structures of oppression, In other words, they would have to pull back the proverbial curtain on the patriarchal plutocracy…not gonna happen IMHO. :)

      April 13, 2013
      • Hekie #

        Very well put, Ann. I’m stealing the ‘lifting the veil on patriarchy’ (or curtain) idea as that’s exactly what it is. I doubt most could unpack it anyway but you’re quite right that it would be far too damaging to all their other bullshit gender rhetoric even if they could actualise the idea.

        April 16, 2013
  48. ally #

    I am the proud daughter of a lesbian cupule. i have found in my parents and in other lesbian parents that the two parents take on two different roles. That same structure is there, I still got a stable healthy family. The gender of my parents did not hinder or negatively affect me or my siblings.

    April 14, 2013
  49. Annette #

    Thank you for this very insightful article! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it because it makes so much sense!

    April 14, 2013
  50. I guess you missed the part where the Bible’s original definition of marriage is one man, many women.

    So why did our christian government go after the mormons when they did this?

    Oh, right. You guys want to boss around everyone else and tell them how they should live.

    Imagine if the satanic church got to decide whether you could get married? That’s how you make the rest of people feel.

    April 14, 2013
  51. Great post! Traditional gender roles are indeed a core aspect of the resistance to same-sex marriage. I explored very similar issues on my blog:

    http://deborahstearns.blogspot.com/2012/06/what-same-sex-marriage-represents.html

    April 23, 2013
  52. David #

    What an unusual argument – maybe it makes sense in America but my wife and I have always endeavoured to maintain equality in as much as we are able – except that I am male and she is female – and together we have produced a wonderful family that we love and value immensely. I’ve probably used the vacuum more, cooked as many meals and certainly changed as many nappies – sorry, I can’t give birth or breast feed. I would have to say I am not threatened by gay marriage. What I have is infinitely more fulfilling, natural and through grandchildren already generational. Unless evolution somehow comes up with a solution for children to be born of same sex couples there is a rather obvious reliance on traditional sexuality, adoption or complicated, expensive and time consuming medical procedures to provide families for gay couples which however it’s done will not be the product of each other.

    April 24, 2013
  53. Oranges #

    I’m not sure if you have thought about this, or if someone else has posted it already. Think about how gay men are treated vs lesbian women.

    Why is society angrier at the male? Because he is giving up his power. He is turning his back upon the notion that the male is meant to rule the female. A MAN is saying that genders in our society are equal.

    This threatens the patriarchal view much more than a female thinking she is just as good as a man (by being a lesbian). Because they know she isn’t, it’s just her being weak/stupid.

    April 25, 2013
  54. Under 4 years of this president, America had gotten away from Bible law and become more wicked than in all the other years of our country combined.

    May 8, 2013
    • Theresa Etter #

      OMG, Todd. I am SO glad I read to the end of the comments. That is priceless. Priceless!

      July 4, 2013
  55. Shinsu #

    Let people love and marry who they want to love and marry. Why should anyone think that they themselves are better then anyone else to judge who they can marry?

    June 19, 2013
  56. Peter #

    I agree that an argument for traditional marriage fails when you deny the concept of gender. However, the author cannot escape that there’s some distinction between men and women by her acknowledgement of the difference between hetero-homosexual relationships. Therefore, if the author acknowledges a distinction between these two relationships, logically, it seems to indicate a difference in gender. Another thing I find lacking in her argument is her use of sources. Many people who believe in traditional marriage do not believe women need to stay at home while the men bring in the income: this is an unfair representation. There are plenty of egalitarians who’d say, “Though we are equal, we are in a sense different.” Her iconoclastic quotes from a leave-it-to-Beaver representation of the traditional approach with Ellen DeGeneres as the icon to the same-sex approach, leaves the casual reader ignorant of several complicated factors. Some of these factors include numerous psychologists who acknowledge the emotional-psychological effects of children without a father. Studies have been shown than have proven that little boys who are raised without a father are more prone to violence than boys with stable fathers (See the book “Raising Cain).

    There are also numerous studies on the lack of attachment newborns experience without the affection of their mothers–Bowen’s attachment theory was founded on this principle. The author doesn’t mention these studies or theories. She, like many other trying to advocate for same-sex marriage seem to neglect, or at least fail to engage, in these questions at the expense of a modern fad to be politically correct without seriously discussing the complexity of this issue. I don’t doubt gay parents could be great examples of parenthood; but, should we be so quick to eschew thousands of years of tradition, church history, artists, and poets for a redefinition of marriage because modern culture thinks it’s an essential characteristic of love?

    Whether one is willing to make that claim or not, previous traditions might need more introspection in our modern hastiness to redefine, and not be as philosophically irrelevant as the author seems to claim.

    July 11, 2013
    • I think we should eschew a great deal of church history for the simple reason that a majority of people in this country ARE NOT CHRISTIANS. Or we could eschew church history for the thousands of years of other traditions: genocide, slavery, subjugation of women, suppression of knowledge, and so on. Or we could look at the supposed “thousands of years of tradition” related to marriage, go read the well-documented “Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe,” and learn that marriage is not what you think it is. Or we could also embrace the church’s history, go back as recently as 150 years go, and recognize that the RCC would marry (their word) priests to other priests. You can find priestly marriage ceremonies fairly easily.

      Or you could recognize that this is not a modern “fad” or a desire to be PC, but rather a recognition of a long-standing desire for equal treatment under the law by men and women who simply happen to be gay. As usual, the US is decades behind most other countries when it comes to social progress, but there are many other countries who have instituted marriage equality, just about all of which continue to have higher standards of living than the US.

      July 12, 2013
      • Ann #

        Word…

        July 12, 2013
  57. thank you for this essay…….. so much!!!

    July 12, 2013
  58. Sarah #

    Yes, this exactly.

    July 17, 2013
  59. Reblogged this on Be Young & Shut Up.

    November 11, 2013
  60. Reblogged this on oogenhand.

    November 12, 2013

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