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Argument: Definition of marriage can and should evolve to include gays

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Pamela Dickey Young, Head of Queens University Department of Religious Studies. "The Place of the Church in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate." April 21, 2005: "Marriage is a socially constructed relationship that varies over time and geography. For instance, marriage in the West has often been the entitlement of the privileged. Serfs, slaves, indentured workers; servants over much of history have not been expected or even allowed to marry. There have been laws against racial intermarriage. Women have throughout most of history been subordinated in marriage to the authority and economic power of their husbands. So, the control of marriage has been a form of social control."


Lisa Miller. "Our Mutual Joy." Newsweek. December 6th, 2008: "Marriage, specifically, has evolved so as to be unrecognizable to the wives of Abraham and Jacob. Monogamy became the norm in the Christian world in the sixth century; husbands' frequent enjoyment of mistresses and prostitutes became taboo by the beginning of the 20th. (In the NEWSWEEK POLL, 55 percent of respondents said that married heterosexuals who have sex with someone other than their spouses are more morally objectionable than a gay couple in a committed sexual relationship.) By the mid-19th century, U.S. courts were siding with wives who were the victims of domestic violence, and by the 1970s most states had gotten rid of their "head and master" laws, which gave husbands the right to decide where a family would live and whether a wife would be able to take a job. Today's vision of marriage as a union of equal partners, joined in a relationship both romantic and pragmatic, is, by very recent standards, radical, says Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage, a History."

Religious wedding ceremonies have already changed to reflect new conceptions of marriage. Remember when we used to say 'man and wife' instead of 'husband and wife'? Remember when we stopped using the word 'obey'? Even Miss Manners, the voice of tradition and reason, approved in 1997 of that change. 'It seems,' she wrote, 'that dropping 'obey' was a sensible editing of a service that made assumptions about marriage that the society no longer holds.'"

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