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C. L. Hanson

I agree with you that (1) marriage has changed (2) the change is positive and (3) the change challenges rigid traditional roles, hence is connected with gay marriage.

My point of depart is the question of cause and effect. I would argue that the primary catalyst was women entering the work force and hence expanding the range of possible roles for women. In fact, I did argue this in an article here:

So we agree on what the change was, but have a slight divergence on who gets credit/blame for it... ;^)

p.s. Sorry to keep being the one who swoops in here and links back to something I've written myself, but if only you'd quit having the same interests as me and related ideas about them, I'd cut it out... ;^)


"All of these things shape our practice of marriage, our understanding of what it is and what it's for. And in order for us to accept or even tolerate same-sex marriage, all of them will need to change."

All of these things change constantly, there is no sitting still. Also, vast differences in people's understandings of these things exist, and have always existed, even within a single "culture". I think the big disconnect here comes from the fact that many (most?) people simply fail to realize the diversity of perceptions/realities that surround them always (i.e., people fail to realize that the way *they* see the world is not -- and never has been -- the same as the way others see the world).


This society, indeed this civilization, is very heterocentric. And I think has taken this status quo for granted for a long time. Most people probably never stopped to think that they as heterosexuals were being placed on a higher status than their homosexual neighbors. And people closing their eyes and covering their ears will not shield them from the simple reality that same sex couples exist and are no threat to them. I cannot feel the slightest bit of sympathy for people who wish to put their traditions above the equal treatment of their fellow citizens. And yes, people who make the claim that our current state of marriage is "traditional" are kidding themselves.

Greta Christina

Actually, C.L., I don't think we're in all that much diagreement. I think lots of factors have had an affect on the changing face of marriage over the decades and centuries, and the changing role of women/ increased entry of women into the workplace is definitely one of the big ones. But I do think that the fight for same-sex marriage is not just an effect of changes that were already happening for other reasons. It's also acting as a catalyst for change.

Let me go into detail on just one example: children. One of the biggest and most common arguments raised against same-sex marriage is that the purpose of marriage is to bear and raise children. But supporters of same-sex marriage always point out, not only that many same-sex couples do have children, but that many opposite-sex couples don't. Supporters of SSM argue that if you're going to ban it because same-sex couples can't bear children, you also have to ban marriage for elderly couples, infertile couples, women with hysterectomies, etc.

As a result, we're having a national conversation, not just about same-sex marriage, but about what marriage is for in the first place... and whether a life without children can be a worthwhile life.

And that doesn't just change things for same-sex couples. It changes things for opposite sex couples... not just for the elderly and infertile ones, but for the young fertile ones who simply don't want children.

This particular national conversation was beginning to happen before same-sex marriage was being seriously discussed. But it seems to me that it's been kicked into high gear in the last decade or so... since same-sex marriage got put on the table.

Young hetero couples are now asking, not just "When do we want to have children" (a radical question in itself, and one that mostly wasn't being asked 50 years ago), but "Do we want to have children at all?" Childlessness is becoming a valid option in a way that it never has been before.

And I think the debate about same-sex marriage -- and the questions it raises -- have a fair amount to do with that.


The SSM debate probably did encourage dialogue on non-reproductive hetero marriage. It certainly helped form an unpredicted alliance during that discussion. Just about every time I read online a conversation about the "marriage is for reproduction and homos can't reproduce" argument, an infertile hetero woman spoke up to angrily point out the insult that paid to her own marriage. Deliberately or not, many of those women made our arguments for us.

C. L. Hanson

True, same sex marriage has added a new dimension to the picture of what marriage means, even though homosexuality is far from being the only challenge to traditional marriage.


Thanks for using the cover of _Sex and the Single Girl_ as illo! I think Gurley Brown's work represents the other - much larger - change in anglo-european society. It's now well within the range of 'normal' for an adult to live alone *and* to have a sex life. This is hugely different from just a generation ago. My first job out of college involved working with household-level data from US census reports 1790-1820. A really shocking difference between those households and what I saw all around me in 1979 was that Nobody Lived Alone. There were plenty of unmarried people (lodgers, transient workers, extended family members, etc.)but no one had a hearth all to him/herself. And the assumption was that households required at least 'one of each'; a man couldn't keep house without a woman, and vice versa. (Making all-male enclaves like logging camps, military camps, etc. really strange & exotic in that society - read contemporary descriptions of the 49 gold rushers to see.)
The post WWII 'Sexual Revolution' changed all that. When you love alone, you can open your [private] door to all kinds of sexual variation. Queerness can come out of the closet (or at least, come out of the realm of pure fantasy); ditto all the kinds of behavior labelled as "swinging". My grandparents' objection to my mother living on her own in the states when she came back from working in Switzerland 1950-55 (and living alone there, but that was 'out of sight, out of mind')-- "what do you want to do that you can't do at home?!?" -- was exactly spot-on. She got married to get on her own; 10 years later, it wasn't uncommon for a nice, middle class woman to just move out.
One of the things, ironically, this made possible was the POSSLQ phenomenon, unmarried het couples shacking up. That's been a much greater threat to the pre-war idea of marriage. I knew more than one set of het couples who lived together in the 1970's for several years, only to find that getting married made a huge and sometimes insurmontable difference in their relationship - the crowd of assumptions of what marriage should be, how husbands / wives should act, etc., etc. That's much more rare now; there's much more leeway in het relationships around gender roles & sexual division of labor (really!). SSM, I think, just carries this trend out to the logical extension / conclusion.

John Howard

One constant throughout marriage's history has been that it always gave the couple the right to conceive children together. Even infertile marriages, and even marriages that don't intend to have children. Yes, these days you don't need marriage to have children together, but that is a very recent development. Even today, you can't prohibit a married couple from conceiving together.

There is a difficult problem coming up though regarding new genetic research to make it so two men or two women can have children together. My feeling is that this is unnecessary, unsafe, a waste of money, and it's disprespectful - gays don't need some biotech company solving the "problem" that gay people can't have children together, because it is not a problem. And mainly it's unsafe! It should not be allowed, but as I just said, we cannot prohibit a marriage from attempting to conceive children together, and if we did, it would mean that marriage no longer protects a male-female marriage's conception rights, either. That is also a dangerous situation, leading to eugenics.
My feeling is that gay rights groups should change their priorities from full equal marriage rights (which include unethical experimental conception rights) to full equal protections with civil unions, which would neither strip marriage of conception rights or open the door to eugenics and genetic engineering.
So I am asking for support from gay rights blogs for the Egg and Sperm Civil Union Compromise, even though it is a step back from marriage, it is a big step forward in equal protections and protects gays from exploitation by unethical labs that want to "fix" their infertility problem.

The Ridger

I don't quite grasp the "genetic engineering" argument, I'm afraid.

But I do support civil unions for everyone. Strip civil rights away from marriage and make it purely sacred - leave the secular, government benefits to the government and get the church(es) out of it. Let churches do "marriage" and that way no one can be forced to recognize "marriage" that crosses their religious notions. After all, you still have to have a preacher licensed by the state to get married in a church; just ask most pagans. And you can get married in a registry without involving a religious person at all. Just go the next step.

Davan S. Mani

I think segregation is what destroying marriage. Segregation in unnatural. Breeding between races, families, tribes, and kniship is not natural. Yeah, everyone says familiar flock and stuff like that. Yeah but it doesn't apply to procreation. Your instincts will always go to the opposite because your family, race, and etcs needs more genetics. Diversity is just better.


John Howard,

What is your opinion on in vitro fertilization (for either homo or het couples)?

I mean, wasn't it (and maybe to a degree it still is) risky to perform since it could have damaging effects on the mother (egg harvesting) and/or the resulting child? If you are consistent, I think your answer would be that in vitro fertilization is just a big a no-no since it (like you figure genetic engineering to be) can:

1) Lead to eugenics (in some places I am certain it already has).

2) Be "unnecessary", because "[Infertile couples] don't need some biotech company solving the "problem" that [infertile] people can't have children together, because it is not a problem." Y'know, "accept who you are" and all that good stuff. Plus, there's always adoption.

3) Be "a waste of money". Why waste money on trying to conceive a child just so that he/she will possess parts of your DNA? The procedure is artificial, very expensive (per try), and has significant rates of failure. Why do so when there are so many parentless children out there to adopt? Why this absolute need to have the child be genetically related to the parents?

4) Be "disrespectful". Umm... I was going to type something here, but you didn't specify, exactly, what part of the whole thing was disrespectful, nor in what way. However, I have this feeling that the same reasoning easily applies to in vitro fertilization for het couples.

Hope to see your reply,


John Howard

Hi Monimonika, thanks for asking. Yes, those things are all true about IVF also. This is how "slippery slopes" work, each step makes the next one seem smaller. But the reason people say that "slippery slope" arguments are fallacy is because there is no requirement that we take step after step after step, it is indeed possible to go only so far down the slope. But usually, we do keep going, and we wouldn't be able to take the next step without taking the one before, so it's never really a fallacy, things do tend to progress in marginal increments.

There are also many major differences between genetic engineering and IVF, so we don't have to lump them together and insist that we either ban both or ban neither.

First of all, IVF is really just sexual intercourse, but in a very unsatisfying and expensive position. It still combines egg and sperm the same way coitus would, if the people were healthy. So it is medicine, it restores healthy functioning. Since it is medicine, it is a matter of medical privacy and can't really be prohibited.

IVF that uses unmarried gametes is not a matter of privacy, since the person being born is not a party to the private decision, and there are many other people involved as well. It is really adultery, and adultery is not private, it has public ramifications. And it isn't really even medicine, since healthy people don't have someone else's baby when they have intercourse, they have their own baby. Donor gametes do not restore healthy functioning, they merely buy a baby.

Likewise, genetic engineering is not medicine or a matter of privacy, and, on top of the risks of IVF, it adds risks and costs that are an order of magnitude greater.

We have stepped onto a eugenics slope with IVF, especially donor gametes, but allowing genetic engineering would be another doozy that we don't have to take.


My goodness there are a lot of fucked up statements in J. Howard's post! Just for starters: "IVF that uses unmarried gametes is not a matter of privacy, since the person being born is not a party to the private decision, and there are many other people involved as well." Huh? How does that differ from fertilization through sex? The person being born is NEVER a party to the decision of how he or she was conceived. Never ever ever in the history of conception. And if you are going to assess privacy rights regarding conception by whether or how many people are effected, the number is unchanged by the method of conception.

John Howard

How does that differ from fertilization through sex?

Right, that's not private either, and I'm against unmarried conception in all forms. But just as allowing IVF doesn't mean we have to allow genetic engineering, allowing unmarried conception doesn't mean we have to allow donor conception or IVF or genetic engineering.

John Howard

fyi, by "allowing unmarried conception" I meant, not punishing it. I do think it should be technically illegal, but only if people do it intentionally, and notoriously intentionally, at that. Accidentally conceiving outside of marriage shouldn't be punished, but intentionally conceiving with unmarried gametes should be punishable.


"intentionally conceiving with unmarried gametes should be punishable."

Why? Not because you "feel" it. I want actual reasons backed by some sort of proof. Scriptures don't count.

I would love to have a baby with my fiancée (note feminine ending). We'll probably use AI or IVF (we've discussed using each others' eggs as donor eggs; we both wish to be pregnant), but I would really love for the genetic parthenogensis experiments to become viable. The idea that we could have a child who is truly genetically our child is captivating. My selfish genes like it quite a bit.

"One constant throughout marriage's history has been that it always gave the couple the right to conceive children together."

What complete BS!! Like there have never been bastards born before the modern era! What rock have you been living under?

Robin Lionheart

Jonathan Rouch made an interesting argument that banning gay marriage in favor of civil unions will do more to destroy the institution of marriage, in the Washington Monthly article "Dire Straights: Why outlawing marriage for gays will undermine marriage for all."

The gist is that if you allow a domestic partner "marriage lite", that allows the various societal perks of marriage like hospital visitation, medical coverage, joint tax filing, &c. to unmarried gays, well, straights are going to want those domestic partner benefits without getting married too.

Making domestic partnerships open to gays only won't work. Requiring proof of sexual orientation would be intolerable. Besides, if the straight majority fights not to be discriminated against in receiving domestic partnership benefits without marriage, they'll probably get them.

Thus marriage gains a competitor with the same benefits but fewer of the burdens, which many straights will find a more attractive alternative.

Robin Lionheart


That is the biggest load of shit I have ever heard, excuse my french. You're arguments hold no ground what-so-ever. Our sense of family isn't going to change just because they're getting married too, let alone our ideas of sex and sexual fulfillment. Marriage is about 2 people sharing their love for eachother in a lifelong bond which a lot of heterosexual couples don't honor as it is. Sex isn't just about procreation. If it was, why would we have invented condoms and birth control? Gay couples make great parents and when they aren't, we have that in heterosexual couples anyway. It's not a sexual preference thing, it's a moral decision and depends on the person. Straight couples make the news all the time because of sexual molestation, now this isn't true for all couples obviously, but it's proof it does indeed happen. Granted I haven't all of your paper, but you should think about the points I'm trying to make and rethink what you're trying to say. : )


There's a lively debate about this here:


Same-sex marriage is a tragedy that would encourage people to enter or persist in activities and relationships that, while offering perhaps momentary pleasure, are ultimately destructive both individually and socially. The ultimate goal of this movement is not same-sex marriage, which most homosexuals do not want, but rather the destruction of the family (read the law professors and sociologists who are pushing this). One doesn't have to be a prophet to see that this would destroy our society, not to mention our democratic institutions (which happens when judges impose their social agendas without constitutional warrant).

Think about it this way. If we legalize same-sex marriage today (and its corollaries such as polygamy and incestuous marriage), what are kindergartners going to be taught tomorrow about marriage and family? When they are told that marriage can be any combination of genders or numbers, marriage will be rendered meaningless for everyone. Anyone who has small children or grandchildren or cares about the future of this nation had better be concerned.

Dan Reese

There is a really intense debate going on about this over at riled up:


Why! Why can people not divide church from rights? Why can't people understand change? Look a long time ago, women having rights was crazy, now, it's okay. A long time ago, blacks having rights, was crazy, now it's a given. A long time ago, women voting was stupid, now all they do is vote. Why is that change is so hard for people to agree on? Marriage is NOT sacred, it is a union. Unlike a civil union, marriage gives people A LOT more rights. We are talking about separate but equal here, which inherently, is NOT equal. Denying kids from knowing about homosexuality, is like denying them their right to know about evolution. Who's to say homosexuality is wrong, us, God? The bible says women have to obey their husbands, but they don't. Plus, homosexuals are nothing but helping our society. We are getting too many people in this world. Homosexuals help reduce that number. They may adopt kids who might never know what it is to be loved. They, as a stereotype, are pacifists. This, I believe, is as stupid of a question, as denying fertile couples marriage. PEOPLE WE ARE CHANGING. The ones who oppose gay marriage, are the ones who forty years ago, denied blacks their right, and denied people interacial relationships.


God says that homosexuality is a sin, so why is there any debate to this ?

Nowhere in the Bible does God say homosexuality is a sin. Leviticus says it but not God. Leviticus was an idiot. We don't discuss anything that he said accept two sentences about gays. Every other law that he states is old and out dated. John said a few things about some Romans who would have sex for sex sake with any gender to worship some Gods. Absolutely nothing to do with gays. Jesus never once mentioned gays or homosexuality. I would listen to Jesus over Leviticus any day. Go to this website:

Maybe a disection of the Bible from a heterosexual biblical scholar will shed some light on what the Bible REALLY says about gays.

This is why we don't need religious "beliefs" as the basis of laws. What we need is logic and reason. People hide behind their "religious beliefs" when in reality they are full of insecurity, hate, and misunderstanding. These are the people we can thank for 8 years of Bush. These are the people who will be duped AGAIN to come out and vote for marriage amendments which will bring them to the polls to vote for McCain. Who, if he wins will turn his back on them and make the rich richer at their expense. Lost your house yet? How about your job? Your copays for health insurance gone up? The country is in the toilet right now so much that the government has to give out money to make the appearance of no recession. Keep worrying about a tiny minority who just wants to protect their families like every one else. Keep voting against them and see how far this country can be brought down because of it.... the truth about gay people.


God LOVES all his children he created us..however he CONDEMNS the PRACTICE of homosexuality. Its stated clearly in the bible. However people will continue to govern themselves in doing what they want to do & that is fine...I don't have a problem with gays or lesbians..I just do NOT agree with their PRACTICE or their lifestyle. And that is another reason in my list of liste why I don't want kids either not in this society. This is my opinion & belief so don't go knocking yourself or get upset.


To deny same sex marriage is to descriminate agianst gays ... what most use as their excuse is that marriage is defined as the union between a man and a woman ... as per the Bible ... HOWEVER ... If we are going from what is said in the Bible God has specifically said that WE have no place to judge others ... So even if you wanted to believe that all homosexuals were going to Hell it is in no way your job to judge them and tell them so ... because also as per the Bible only God can judge anyone ... Also I just thought I should add ... Some couples (hetro couples) DO NOT have children and I have no idea of the number of children who do not have parents for one reason or another but I have always been all for adoption and maybe the change these homosexual couples will bring is a loving home to a child who otherwise grow up not having any parents at all instead of being able to bring their own child into the world just for the sake of being a "normal family" ... p.s. I would like to see this "normal family" that everyone is always talking about because I can tell you I had a mom and a dad and my house was aything but normal or perfect just beacuse I had a mom AND a dad


Very thought provoking.

The major change that same sex marriage will have is on the gay community.

With equality also comes responsibility.

Much like the women's rights' movement in the 70's really impacted the whole butch/femme culture

being able to marry will reduce the whole serial monogamy thing that many lesbians have going on

and the whole bathhouse/causual thing that gay men have going on

but more importantly, beign able to get married tells teenage gays that they are okay, they can be happy, they have options

and maybe they won't kill themselves because the future isn't as bleak

because with marriage comes inclusion in society

Camille Carlson

Personally, I do not see a problem with legalizing gay marriage. There are many arguments against it-but i feel that they can all be refuted with basic knowledge and common sense.

Most religions consider homosexuality a sin: Sure, it is seen unfit in many religions for couples of the same sex to get married. But since when does America base its politics on religion? Because the First Amendment clearly protects citizen's from religion, and also grants religious freedom, it is unconstitutional to ban gay marriage. Not everyone in America is of the same religion, or any religion at all for that matter! So how is it moral to use the argument that under God, or Ala, or Buddha or whoever your higher figure is, prohibits the marriage same sex couples. In our free nation, this is obviously not a constitutional argument.

It would weaken the definition and respect for the institution of marriage: What is more important in your eyes, the words used to define something, or the humanity involved in executing it. Maybe the dictionary definition of marriage clarifies that it is between a man and a woman, but over the span of the English language, plenty of definitions have been changed to fit the changes and growth of society. As for the idea that it would weaken the respect for the institution of marriage, this completely blows my mind. I do not understand how allowing two people who love each other the opportunity to get married weakens anything! In my eyes, marriage is strengthened, for this sacred institution is allowed for anyone to experience.

It could provide a slippery slope in the legality of marriage (e.g. marrying an object could be next):
This argument is absolutely insulting to the gay community. Comparing a human being to an object is an incredibly dehumanizing and unfair correlation to make. Human life is so much more valuable and deserves so much more respect than an object- and American people are guaranteed rights and freedoms, objects are not.

Overall, it takes only a little humility and common sense to refute the weak arguments regarding the discrimination against gay Americans. As our nation progresses, they will be guaranteed the rights they deserve. Future Americans will look back and have the same thoughts about this era that we do about the era of slavery.

raiders jersey

It calls my mind of one of my friends. She loves a girl. She said it is not because she is not able to fall in love with somebody, but just because she can. She fell in love with somebody, and the one is just a girl.

Vanity Rivera

You bring a very interesting point that isn't often brought up. That is one of the main arguments that I feel is coming up. Many forget the fact that their marriage is within their own hands. If the marriages are destroyed, I believe it is because their unwillingness to accept the flow of changes and go with them. The sacredness of marriage has been diminishing for years I would argue. This is shown through the overnight marriages, the marrying for deportation and immigration reasons, and the many woman who want to get married and do not care who it is with. It seems to often serve as a factor to fulfilling he image of the "American dream." I feel that legalizing Same Sex Marriage will provide a sort of burning tower effect. It may at first create destruction of all old things, values, beliefs etc., however, this is to provide room for the new, more solid, and better family foundations.

Reese N

God's Rite or Civil Right Covenant or Contract

Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, the Eucharist, the Lord's Supper, Matrimony, Holy Orders, Initiation, Clergy Investiture, Extreme Unction, and Funeral Rites. These are the provenance of GOD. The Church demands that government not legislate the definition of sacraments. Religion has good reason to be selfish of its prerogatives. The Church has only the Grace of God and the Will of the Law to protect it.
We must protect the sanctity of marriage. Sanctity means sacred, blessed, set apart, hallowed. Marriage can stay a sacrosanct covenant only when it is set apart from the law.
NO Right to Sacred Marriage.
NO Rite of Legal Marriage.


Reese: Unfortunately, marriage is enormously conflated. At many times in history, its civil contract portion has been considered by far the most important.

As just one example of how religious marriage is subordinated to civil law, consider the fact that although many religions, such as Mormonism, teach that marriages sanctified by other sects "don't count", it is still not permissible for them to conduct a separate marriage for one of the parties on those grounds.

The ultimate solution is to disconnect the two pieces entirely, and disconnect a religious wedding from the civil law aspects of marriage, just as Extreme Unction is separate from civil death certificates. But that will be a long time coming.

The French PACS, created to provide civil union for homosexuals but extremely popular with heterosexual couples.

Reese N

The PACS link does not work

Greta Christina

Reese: The facts of history do not bear out your position. Marriage was a civil arrangement long before it became a religious rite... and long, long before it became a Christian rite, or even a Judaic one.

What's more, marriage exists in different religions -- including ones that worship very different gods. Would you argue that Buddhists and Hindus have no right to legal marriage, or to call their long-term romantic unions "marriages," because that rite is sacred to a god they don't worship?

And even in our modern Western society, the fact is that marriage is primarily a civil, legal arrangement. It comes with a wide assortment of legal rights and responsibilities that are not available to people who are not married; it is legally available to people of all religious persuasions, to couples who have different religious persuasions, and to people with no religion at all. You can say over and over again that marriage is solely or primarily a religious rite -- but that doesn't make it true.

Religions absolutely have the right to choose which unions they do and do not wish to sanctify with their religious rites. Nobody is denying that; nobody wants to force churches who oppose same-sex marriage to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. Religions do not, however, have the right to deny the legal, non-religious arrangement of marriage to people simply because they think God doesn't approve.


Reese: Oops! I meant to say "The French PACS is a step in this direction." Sorry for the typo.

As an example of my and Greta's point, consider the historical institution of Fleet Marraiges: marriages conducted contrary to the rules of the Church, but nonetheless considered valid.

Reese N

I was not clear that my post was, in deference to your rules of posting comments, just a summary of the full note.

Greta said "The ultimate solution is to disconnect the two pieces entirely, and disconnect a religious wedding from the civil law aspects of marriage..." That is exactly what I hoped to convey. The Christian stance is that the term "Marriage" is theirs and not usable by any other. I say that it cannot be attached to a legal document. I do not dispute that all religions have a right to perform what marriages they will, defined as they will. I do have a problem with them being recognized by any civil authority or given special rights.

Greta"Marriage was a civil arrangement long before it became a religious rite..." The word marriage is as much a modern word as is homosexual. Neither existed before English. In the bible the closest we come to LGBT is "eunuch by nature" or "born eunuch," but that doesn't mean there were no homosexuals. This is not about what was practiced in the past, nor meant by the original framers. It is about where we go from here, and whether we can in any way compromise with a section of society that will not face reality and embrace an inclusive morality.

I think our best bet to solve the problem is to abandon the religiously guarded semantics and choose a new name for a civil contract. It may seem to be a surrender, but I view it as a censure of the religious. Their insistence on a term means that term cannot be legally recognized. No marriage will be legally protected. Leave them the word but deprive it of substance, let them keep their invisible ownership of nothing.

Greta Christina
The Christian stance is that the term "Marriage" is theirs and not usable by any other.

I understand that they think that. Why should we concede that point? If we're going to keep the religious rite of marriage separate from the legal contract, why do Christians get to keep the word -- and the concept?

There are practical reasons to preserve the civil meaning of the word and the concept of "marriage." Marriage, and the rights and responsibilities that go with it, is recognized around the country and around the world; civil unions and domestic partnerships are most emphatically not. And there are personal and emotional reasons. Marriage is an unbelievably old human institution and human ritual -- it most emphatically did NOT originate in the Church -- and many of us feel a deep connection to it, and want to participate in it.

Also, your etymology is mistaken. "Marriage" is a much older English word than "homosexual" -- 13th century as opposed to 19th. And even the 13th century English word derives from Old French, which in turn derives from Latin. The roots of the word -- and of the concept -- are very old indeed. And they are secular.

Why should we try to re-invent the wheel, come up with some whole new concept and try to get the entire world to recognize it? What makes you think that would be either easier or more desirable than reminding people that the concept never belonged to religion, and that they don't get to define it? If we need different terms, let's call them "religious marriage" and "civil marriage." Why should we concede the entire word and concept of marriage, with all its practical and legal and emotional power, to the assholes who co-opted it and then acted like they invented it?

More on the practical arguments for secular marriage:

One In Seven: Why Civil Unions Aren't Enough
Why Get Married?

And more on the emotional arguments for secular marriage:
I Do -- And Why


Everyone has a story. Maybe they have always been gay or maybe not.
For example: What if a girl was violently raped as a teenager and tried to be with men as she was before the rape, but she cannot. When she is with a man she remembers her rape and is disgusted. Something the raped victim cannot help. She then meets a girl and falls deeply in love with her. Would the opposers to gay marriage still argue that this is unethical? One should be able to marry whoever makes them happy. Gays should not have to conform to society and weaken their internal happiness.
And Greta: You kept mentioning "normal" in your blog post. What is "normal" to you is "not normal to another. Each person has their own definition of normal. There is no direct definition of a "normal" family. What if a child grew up with two wonderful Moms who attended every soccer game and raised a beautiful child. Opposed to a heterosexual couple who fought all the time and one was an alcoholic and the child grew up in a harsh environment affecting him/her in their later years. Each situation is different and you are in no place to judge anybody.
In regards to religion, conservatives defend their beliefs against gay marriages because the bible condemns homosexuality; however, the bible also states that you should stone your children if they disobey you. The bible was written thousands of years ago and is outdated. Get with the decade and stop being so narrow minded to change. Change has been good for America. Let it be.


Sarah, the point... you missed it!

Greta Christina

Ummmmm... Sarah, what piece did you read? Did you somehow get the impression that I oppose same-sex marriage? Or that I think normality is a virtue? That is the exact opposite of my point. Please re-read. Thank you.

George Hill

When two people get married, it is because they love each other.
They want to be together in a bond that makes them one with each other forever.
It is a wonderful thing to have such a bond.
It is special.
It is love.
When a man and a woman get married, no one blinks an eye.
If two men or two women do the same, then many people do not approve.
They claim that it is not right or that it soils the real meaning of marriage.
What is the real meaning of marriage?
The answer to that question is in line one of this article.
It is because they love each other.
Does it matter if the couple is gay or straight?
Should it matter?
After all, why should it.
Gays want their equal rights and among those equal rights is the right to be married.
I agree with wanting equal rights.
We are all people which means we are all the same.
It does not matter if someone is gay, white, black, a man, a woman, tall, short, young, old or whatever.
We all want our equal rights.
That is our right.
However, we need to go beyond equal rights when it comes to gay marriage.
Society needs to understand that any marriage is not about the right to be married.
It is about wanting to be married as a loving couple.
Love is not something that should be decided on by voters.
It is not a court issue either.
It should not be an issue at all.
Marriage is between two people in love.
It is not between two people, the voters, the courts and anyone else who has an opinion.
Gay marriage does not bring down the meaning of marriage.
It makes the true meaning of marriage even better.
That is what love does.
It makes things better.
Society has come a long way in the last fifty years in terms of equality, but we still have a long way to go.
It is a shame that love is something that needs to be fought for.
I am not gay, but I am the same as you as you are to me.
May love conquer all.

George Vreeland Hill


Greta, you make a number of compelling points that I'm still pondering. Thanks for that. However, if you're still watching comments on this post, I have a question for you.

The effects you're describing do not in any way seem especially harmful, so how would you respond to someone saying "gay marriage is harmful to traditional marriage?" Currently in Minnesota the legislature is considering an amendment to the state constitution banning SSM, and SSM has even been compared to second-hand smoke. Since I live in Minnesota, that means I have to deal with that question.

Murray Gold

ITS NOT ONLY IMMORAL ITS JUST PLANE WRONG. Man was made by the lord to have relations with a woman thats why physically the penis fits inside the vagina. To even argue that gay is the new norm is simply ignorant. I didnt mind what people did in there homes behind closed doors but this is where i draw the line. I do not want my children going to school, a neutral forum, where another child might have two fathers or two mothers. I believe in love and the right to love whomever who chose to love, but the entire argument behind gay marriage is wrong. Homosexuals are constantly ridiculing straight people now a days like we are the ones with a problem! Im so frustrated by the state of society and the state of america as a people that this is where i draw the line. Im tired of gay pride and im sick of turning on the tv to see garbage programming like glee that glorifies homosexuality and makes it seem normal. Simply it is not NORMAL. More and more children are watching these shows and becoming confused about there sexuality. These shows promote homosexuality in our communities. SICK AND TIRED of it. The majority of reporters on CNN are gay, ex: Cooper and Lemon. Where does this end? How do we stop them from passing laws that will allow my children to suffer from their diseases? Enough is enough and its time for a change. I voted for Obama thinking that he would change America towards the positives, not drive this country into the ground. Worst decision of my life. The economy is suffering, the homeless rate in NY jumped up 50% and this moron of a prez goes on TV to announce a celebration that Bin Laden is dead. He's such a pussy! Post those pictures of him! Print out a huge banner like picture with a bullet in his head and hang it over Ground Zero. Thats the memorial he truly deserves. not a 'proper' muslim burial at sea. Are you kidding me? This country has become way too liberal and we put everyones wants and needs before our own. Now its bad to say that muslims are terrorists. A true fact. People cringe and consider me a bad human being if i say i hate muslims because of what they did to this country on 9=11. Im suppost to watch my tongue. If blacks or jews caused 9-11 i would hate them too. They didnt, dirty arab muslims who hate america and jews caused 9-11. I have a friend who when i told him osama bin laden was killed, he told me, hey to each there own! I was shocked. There is no respect for America, and for god sakes people think that the holocaust never happened! People in general are much lower morally then they were 50 years ago. WE DESERVE for the world to come to an end. Mayan calendars are probably not that far off with there predictions. God says in the bible that the world will end when people start treated others like garbage. And god also hates homosexuals. Written in the bible! Homosexuality is considered immoral and a crime. In some countries, even in todays times, punishable by DEATH. Im disgusted with us as a people. Gay's are #1. Everyone loves Muslims and Jews are considered scum. Jews are trying to live in peace with these terrorists in Israel but everyday a bomb explodes and kills innocent people who are taking a bus ride to work. Israelis cant take it anymore and decide to beef up border patrols, these muslim monsters throw rocks at us. They kill 100 Jews, we beef up borders, we dont even fight back! I hate muslims, they will truly cause this planet to end in turmoil and watch and see all of these revolutions in the middle east will end up very bad. They (muslims) cannot find peace, will never find peace. In the Jewish Torah it clearly states that muslims will not stop the violence until they murder all the Jews. My muslim friend himself told me that his mother preached to him at a young age, never to trust jews and that jews are the scum of the earth! I couldnt believe it. And america defends these people!! Let them blow each other up freaking terrorists get me so angry. I lost so many friends on 9-11 for nothing. America became more pussy then it has ever been. Now give fags rights to marry and tell straight people that we are not normal!!

Greta Christina

Murray: Thank you for sharing.

Everyone else: Please, please, do not feed this troll. Thank you.


I found your piece on gay marriage, and how it is altering the concept of what a marriage is, and who it is for, very good.
My wife and I have a "mixed-orientation" marriage; which we have worked very hard at since I came out to her. We've come a long way! OUr relationship is a monogamous one (by mutual choice), but we are both well aware that our relationship is "unconventional." However, for us, it seems pretty nornal!
My wife and I both enjoyed your piece on your own struggle to be recognized as a legitimately married couple. We share a similiar struggle. The biggest being, how could a gay(?) (bi) man love a woman?
There are some very interesting examples of such "unconventional" marriages and relationships. Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, are one; and Lytton Strachey and Dora Carrington are just two that I could mention that has helped us craft the relationship we now have.
Reading about your relationship brought my wife and I some needed encouragment. Thanks so very much! Your courage has inspired me to post this comment!


My wife and I have a "mixed-orientation marriage." It is our marriage. No one else's. Were not saying that straight marriages are abnormal, nor are we saying that LGBT relationships are wrong. Love doesn't always come in nice, neat little packages. Love emerges between two persons, sometimes irregargless of their genders! It happens. Straights, gays, lesbians--life is more of a continuum, with overlaps! Love is for every one. So, too, is marriage! To want to be together, openly,to be acknowledged, is right and proper.
Love doesn't fit into some sort of predetermined box! I love my wife, and I'm gay/bi! How about that? Blows away the heterosexual arrogance, doesn't it? Life is a very surprising thing. Lets don't waste the time we have bickering over unnecessary nonsense, okay?

Christine Boyd

I think the main reason why a lot of people consider gay marriage a bad thing is because of religion. Many of us are raised to fear God, and with that comes the notion that God hates gays. And church has been there for a long time so that kind of mentality is so hard to eradicate.

Fortunately, the status quo is now changing. Gay marriages are now being allowed. :)

Gay Wedding Hawaii

If one person lives in a Catholic country it may take a long long while before it is going to be accepted but for some other countries it may be just a few steps away. Having a family as well understand and acknowledge it to be is for a man and a woman to share with the bond of legality which is a contract of marriage. People and each one of us change and for whatever reason it may be I am hopeful that it is for a positive reason. I guess if I am to think of it the reason why LGBT is not totally accepted even to an open country with all its equality for rights established because we are accustomed to what we believe and understand that only a man and a woman can be called a Family.

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