People never think of any of this when they argue about the sanctity of marriage…
As state after state — most recently Utah and Oklahoma — battles to legalize gay marriage, opponents of the push for equality continue to argue that marriage itself has remained a static institution that would be destroyed if redefined. But there’s a big flaw in that logic. Because while marriage has existed as a central element of life in nearly every global culture in recorded history, its definition has already been changed. Repeatedly.
Before legal systems and international economies, noble and ruling classes used marriages instead of treaties to create diplomatic and commercial ties. “You established peaceful relationships, trading relationships, mutual obligations with others by marrying them,” writes Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage: A History. Until recently — in the scheme of things, anyway — marriage was defined almost exclusively by these advantageous partnerships, when people began openly questioning them.
So for anyone who claims that gay marriage will defile “traditional” marriage’s supposed long-standing and unchanged legacy, have a look at just a few of the ways marriage has already been redefined over the years.