Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why Marriage?

I figured in the blog we would get to the heart of the issue and the title of Chauncey's book: Why marriage? What is it about the title marriage that has both sides so fervent and unyielding?

Evan Wolfson explains that -“One of the main protections that comes with marriage, is the word marriage, which brings clarity and security that is simply not replaceable by any other word or sheaf of documents”

Knowing what we know about marriage and its history from this class, why do you think there is such a wish to "defend" marriage in its "traditional" state by conservatives and the Christian Right and such a desire to be included into the institution of marriage not just by benefits but by name as well (civil unions not enough for activists) on the part of the gay community? Do you think the name marriage is necessary for the gay community to have full equality? How vital is the title of marriage to self-identification, societal understanding, and distribution of benefits?


ceh said...

So I've been thinking a lot about this because of Chauncey's book and the other things in the media lately that I posted about. I realize that historically there is an argument that the term "marriage" does not have to have a religious connotation. Regardless, to a lot of people, it does. However, I don't think that we should be mixing a religious term with a civil one. My personal view is that we do away with the term marriage in all regards to the government. People should be able to get into a civil union with anyone they want, be it someone they are romantically involved in or otherwise. The term marriage should be confined to a relationship recognized by a religious organization, and as the book said, there are a growing number of religious organizations that are officiating marriages between gay and lesbian couples.

Gillian said...

I think there is such a drive to defend marriage in the "traditional" state by conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, because a lot of them believe that the origin marriage is based in Biblical times. Whether or not this is really true should not be part of the issue, but I think that if certain groups want to be able to define what they think of as a "marriage," then they should be able to, but maybe not under the same terminology that the government uses. I know that when I get married I'm going to have to sign two marriage papers - one for the state, and one for the church. The state should recognize one thing as the civil marriage and then religious groups should be able to edit that definition as they please, but not be able to enforce their definitional edits on those not involved in that religion.

If this changed, and all civil marriages were referred to by one term and the unions formed in the church were a separate term (with homosexual and heterosexual marriages on both sides of the unions), then the naming issue would not be as large as it is. However, it would be difficult to eradicate the term from the general vernacular and both groups (those united in civil ceremonies and those united in religious ones) would wish to claim the term "marriage" for themselves. I think a lot of this stems from how ingrained marriage is in the public consciousness, but also agitating this is the fact that religious groups are notorious for not wanting change - because if some things do change, then their entire religion could possibly be called into question.