Sunday, January 27, 2008

What Has Made a Marriage

I’ve been going through some of my old stuff and came across this list of ways I’ve found by which the state has defined a marriage in our history:

-Slavery (a slave could marry)
-Race Alone
-Race Relative to Intended Partner
-Current Legal Gender
-Legal Gender at Birth
-Biological Sex (The reason Rob and I could be legally married in, say, Spain but not Utah)
-In Apprenticeship
-In School
-Parental Consent
-Employer’s Consent
-Your Consent (Sometimes it didn't matter a bit)
-Already Married (polygamy)
-Family/Blood Relation
-Using Contraception (This was only a church discrimination of marriages, that I can find)
-Fertility (only the infertile allowed to marry, in some cases. I can’t find a case where fertility was a requirement for marriage).
-Social Class
-Political Class, Nobility
-Economic Class
-Dowry Size
-Existence of Previous Children
-Blood Test Results
-Criminal Record

I just find it funny that some people are living under the impression that the definition of a marriage is and has been immutable, and the day after a change in what constitutes a marriage will see men lining up to marry office furniture or livestock (Ahem, Huckabee, you goof). In fact, the definition has changed greatly over years and geography—often for the better—and no one yet has tried yet to get on their canine husband’s health insurance policy. Is it really a mystery as to why?

Many different states, sects, and religions have sought to hold jurisdiction over the human heart when it comes to our feelings on family. It’s easy to understand why. Family, just below the individual, is a primary human institutions, fixed in the root of most innate human motivations. If you control your neighbor’s family, you will control your neighbor.

The definition of a valid union has been used to weaken powerful families, keep the poor from coupling with the rich, keep the slave focused on his servitude, encourage large populations of followers, and uphold superstitions about race. But the definition of a marriage has become more and more just with each generation. It’s become nearer the golden rule and truer to the human drive to love and couple up, set there by our creator, be it the laws of physics or God.

I just hope it’s not too long before my local government, as many others have, realizes denying a couple marriage rights and responsibilities because of their sexual anatomy is just as misguided and damaging to society and family as denying the same for their income, race, or class. I'd hope sometime in my life to have the peace of mind of knowing my family will be treated as family by the powers that be, if anything were to happen to me. So here's to hoping for another change for the better in the definition of what makes a marriage.

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