As a rule, the more marriage was enshrined in law, the more freedom under the law was given to men and women who sought marriage. This was often the case in the ancient world, and emphatically the case in the medieval world...This, to my mind, is why extending the right--the rite--to gay couples is good for society. Combined with adoption, it would promote stable families for children in need of loving parents. It would protect all parties involved from unscrupulous advantage-taking. Most important, it would recognize and elevate the cultural significance of devotion for all couples, gay or straight. A state truly serious about the institution should shore it up by legitimizing gay marriage.
Not only do these laws ensure the continuation of society through the rearing of subsequent generations; they also aimed to protect the rights of men and women. For example, laws in favor of free consent as well as those proscribing consanguinity and affinity protect individuals from being forced into marriage for the sake of dynastic concerns. Likewise, public marriage banns protect women from being two-timed by bigamist rakes.
Dec 9, 2007
marriage, history, government, society
I first noticed Coontz's article about the purported "privatization of marriage" a couple weeks ago. Since then, I've read my brother's critique of its historicizing, confirmed by an extended (and, I think, compelling) critique by Michael Fragoso. Fragoso's analysis, as my brother later notes, shows the nuances and "public character" of the tradition of marriage in the West, and, as I noted before, its continual evolution within a basic framework. Just before summing up, Fragoso, who is hostile to the prospect of gay marriage, writes,