Saturday, October 28, 2006

My Brief History Search of Marriage

With the recent ruling by the NJ Supreme Court and the battle in NJ between gay marriage/civil union or whatever it's going to be called, I decided to do a little research on the history of marriage. Was "marriage" really ordained by God and directed in the Bible? When did the word, "marriage" actually begin to be used? Have there been gay "marriages" or unions before in history. What I found left me even more confused. For you see, "marriage" as we know it today in the US has been an ever changing ritual.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God orders a man and a woman to marry. There are certainly references to a woman and a man joining together, but it is nontheless very confusing as to what the Bible actually states about marriage. And the union between a man and a woman was not even called "marriage" way back then.

I did come across one piece of information that seemed to sum up all of the other research I did. It is The History of Marriage as an Institution, by Larry R. Peterson, PhD. Several interesting facts, at least I think they're facts, are brought up in Dr. Peterson's writing:

1. From the 5th to the 14th centuries, the Roman Catholic Church conducted special ceremonies to bless same-sex unions which were almost identical for those to bless heterosexual unions. At the very least, these were spiritual, if not sexual, unions;
2 From the 1690s to the 1870s, “wife sale” was common in rural and small-town England. To divorce his wife, a husband could present her with a rope around her neck in a public sale to another man;
3. Marriage was strictly a civil and not an ecclesiastical ceremony for the Puritans in Massachusetts Bay until 1686;
4. Until 1662, there was no penalty for interracial marriages in any of the British colonies in North America. In 1662, Virginia doubled the fine for fornication between interracial couples. In 1664, Maryland became the first colony to ban interracial marriages. By 1750, all southern colonies, plus Massachusetts and Pennsylvania outlawed interracial marriages;
5. In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state anti-miscegenation laws in Loving v. Virginia.
As a result of the decision, Virginia and fifteen other states had their anti-miscegenation laws declared unconstitutional. Those states were: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.
In the fifteen years prior to the decision, fourteen states had repealed their anti-miscegenation laws. Those fourteen states were: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

What conclusions do I draw from this? That marriage has had many different connotations througout history. And most importantly: If it was not for a US Supreme Court ruling in 1967, there would still be states to this day that prohibit interracial marriages! Those State legislatures would never, never have changed the law except for the US Supreme Court ruling! Those goddamn activist judges!

1 comment:

Joe Tornatore said...

wife sale, that beats all. contradicts the Henny Youngman joke now doesn't it.