The Language of Marriage


ImageWith all the discussion about marriage equality, I’ve heard arguments that included using different language for marriage-equivalents between two people of the same gender to protect the traditional definition of marriage. Well, I would like to suggest that if that is the case, let’s also find a lesser name for the union between two people who were previously married to other people since divorce historically is not allowed except under very specific situations in some traditions. Let’s also rename the union that includes one or both individuals who have betrayed his or her spouse with infidelity, because certainly this cannot be considered a sacred union. We should also find a different word for a “husband” who doesn’t provide for his family, because that doesn’t meet the traditional role of husband defined by many societies. Perhaps we also find another word for “wife” for a woman who doesn’t stay home to care for the family, and instead works to provide for the family. And a different name for a couple who chooses not to have or cannot have children other than “married.” If we’re going to argue for the definition of traditional marriage, which for the record has nothing to do with what some folks suggest, let’s keep the word “marriage” for a man and a woman who only have been married to one another, have been completely faithful, only have sex to propagate, where the husband works to earn a living, and the wife stays home to care for the children, they don’t use birth control, and they have regular sex, because most traditions require that as part of a “real” marriage.

If these limitations are not possible, then let’s use the word “marriage” for a ceremony in which two adults who have no legal reason they cannot otherwise be married, and who love one another, are joined in wedlock. You see, the definition of marriage is becoming more inclusive all over the world, including countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Africa. Nothing anyone says or does at this point will change this fact. Eventually, the United States Supreme Court will grant all couples the right to marry. Eventually, all 50 states will grant permission to all couples to marry. Perhaps this year. Perhaps next year. Perhaps in 10 years, but eventually, this will be the case. It is inevitable. Those who attempt to stop or slow that process will be seen as having been on the wrong side of history. How our descendants will perceive those of you who drag your heels will be seen in the future.

Same-sex marriage may never be permitted in Muslim countries or where other religiously-orthodox governments exist. I understand that those who adhere to certain religious traditions do not support marriage equality, but state-sanctioned marriage has nothing to do with religion. The state grants permission for an atheist couple to be just as married as a Hasidic Jewish couple.

For the record, my husband and I had a religious ceremony and, as far as we are concerned, we are married in the eyes of God. Yes, we have a registered domestic partnership through the state, but that doesn’t count nearly as strongly to us as our marriage vows, which our minister officiated. Our vows are between God and us as a couple. I would suggest no one has a right to challenge the marriage celebrated in the eyes of God, nor how we call our marriage . No one.

What I know is that one day, my husband and I will be able to be legally married in our home state of California.  Until that day, I will not stand idly by and let others insist how my husband and I should define our relationship, anymore than I would insist how others should define their marriages.   

2 responses

  1. Very well put, James. It makes a lot more sense to just call all weddings a marriage than to try to come up with new words for the same thing

    1. Thanks, Loren. 🙂 It makes more sense to me, too, but you know darned well that the double standard that guides this nation will preclude any acknowledgement of what I’ve written.

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