Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Let's Keep Good Traditions, Dump the Bad Ones

Richard Feinberg, a professor of anthropology at Kent State University who has a long list of accomplishments and experience, asks at, "Defending 'Traditional' Marriage? Whose Definition? What Tradition?"

After years of argument a half-dozen states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage. 
 They have legalized the limited, monogamous same-sex freedom to marry. More places will follow.

Despite the claim that marriage is a bond between one man and one woman, polygamy (defined broadly as plural marriage) is extremely common and was even more so in the past. The most frequently encountered variant is polygyny, the marriage of one husband to multiple wives. Often, the co-wives are sisters, an arrangement known as sororal polygyny. Less common variants are polyandry (one wife, multiple husbands) and polygynandry (an arrangement that involves multiple spouses of both sexes).
Marriage can take on many forms.
Among the world's known cultures, most have accepted polygyny as legitimate. Many have actively preferred it. It is far from some quaint, exotic practice; indeed, it is well-established in the Bible. 
It's... traditional.
Seen in an anthropological light, gay marriage is one variant in a remarkably diverse set of practices. Same-sex marriages are not exactly commonplace in the mosaic of world cultures. Neither are they absent from "traditional" societies, however, despite the claims of those who argue for a legal ban on same-sex marriages.

Reality isn't kind to prejudice.

It doesn't matter what is traditional. Slavery is an excellent example of something very, very traditional. What matters is... are we going to have equal rights for all adults, regardless of race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation? Some traditions have denied marriage (or even the right to just live) to interracial couples, gays and lesbians, polyamorous people, and consanguineous lovers, and those traditions are the kinds of traditions that should be left in the ash heap of history. Good traditions, we can keep.
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1 comment:

  1. TRADITIONAL marriage = the man OWNS the woman
    Should this tradition be kept? NO!


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