Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A history of gay marriage

by Sofia Squittieri, Writing Intern

Gay marriage has not yet been legalized nationwide in the U.S. In the 21st century, it seems unacceptable that two people who love each other, and want to spend their lives together, cannot make this union legal. Even worse, in some countries, these loving people are considered “illegal” as human beings. But, let's talk about the United States of America--not so united on this topic.

Currently, 38 States allow marriage between people of the same sex. The rest are still fighting for—and against—this law being passed. In some of these states, the constitution does not include a clause declaring that the ban of these marriages is not allowed.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Dictionaries do include entries accepting gay marriage. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines marriage in the following way: “the relationship that exists between a husband and a wife.” But, the second entry continues: “a similar relationship between people of the same sex.” In the Oxford Dictionary, this appears: “The legally or formally recognized union of a man and a woman (or, in some jurisdictions, two people of the same sex) as partners in a relationship.” Dictionaries allow the option of same-sex marriage—some of them, reluctantly—but they accept it. Maybe, those remaining states are just delaying the inevitable.

Homosexuality (editor’s note: same-sex romantic relationships) has existed since time immemorial. It appears when, as human beings, we step beyond convention and decide what and who we like. Actually, the word “homosexuality” comes from the Ancient Greek and Latin. There were ancient words for it because it existed. In Ancient Greece, the most common form of same-sex sexual relations was between adult men and young boys. Yes, they invented pederasty; it was normal and it was accepted (editor’s note: she has sources; they’re below). And the Greeks were not an exception. There is evidence of homosexuality in ancient Egypt, in ancient Rome, during the Renaissance, in the modern period, in the Islamic culture, in the South Pacific and in many more places and times worldwide
There is even evidence of same-sex weddings—a proof of acceptance—throughout history. Nero, a Roman Emperor, married his freedmen. Later he married a man. That marriage was to a young boy that replaced his concubine. The union was celebrated publicly in Rome and Greece. In 1061, in the north of Spain, two men were married . . . through the church. Proof of this event was discovered in a monastery.

Among nations, Denmark first legally permitted homosexuals to share lives; that was in 1989. But only in the current century did a country, the Netherlands, allow same-sex marriage. Since then, many countries have joined them, especially in the last two years.

The United States is a super power, the super power--"an example for other countries." How can this country that “leads the world” be so far behind in this social matter? And this isn't just a European thing (and that entire continent hasn't gotten on board yet either). South Africa and at least 22 Native American tribes recognize same-sex unions.

It is time for the U.S. to create a Federal Law recognizing marriage simply as the legal union of two people. This is not a 21st century trend; it’s history, it’s inevitable, and it’s right.

Chauncey, George (2004). Why Marriage?: The History Shaping Today's Debate over Gay Equality. New York: Basic Books.
Boswell, John (1994). Same-sex Unions in Premodern Europe. New York: Villard Books.
Foucault, Michel (1986). The History of Sexuality. Pantheon Books.
Dover, Kenneth J. (1979). Greek Homosexuality.


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