Back at Lewis and Clark grade school, Mrs. Gregory was our music teacher. She played the piano while we sang all sorts of songs: current hits, campfire songs, rounds and more. She actually taught us most of the songs from Fiddler on the Roof. One of those songs is entitled, "Tradition". If you're not familiar, it talks about the traditions of a Jewish family from that era and a few things stick in my mind. 1) This was the only thing I knew about Jewish life since I grew up in the whitest white town in the world...no ethnic or religious minorities to be found. And 2) When I was singing the 'boys' part about what they could expect growing up, I was amazed that anyone could live without having a say in you life's path. Those lyrics were "...at 3 I went to Hebrew school, at 10 I learned a trade. I hear they picked a bride for me, I hope she's pretty." Wow. I couldn't imagine life like that, but it was tradition. That's how you lived, and that's what marriage was.
Traditional marriage is getting lots of press these days. Everyone on one side argues that traditional marriage has been the same since time began. Not even close! Marriage has traditionally been about forming alliances, merging powerful families, paying off debts, producing a male heir, etc. A man, especially if he had power or money, could pretty much choose who he wanted, and the woman's family (or more likely a girl) would be thrilled that their daughter would be marrying into wealth or power. Love never came into play.
Up until recently, it was still a man's world when it came to marriage. Tradition said that a man made all the decisions and controlled all the family's money (even money earned by the woman). Tradition said that the woman had to perform her 'wifely duties' even if she didn't feel like it and if the man forced himself on her, it was all perfectly legal. Tradition also said that it was almost a man's duty to 'keep his woman in line' even if that meant smacking her around a bit.
Other traditions have come under scrutity lately. Several colleges have banned or kicked out fraternities after hazing incidents became public. The Citadel is under fire after the hazing of several freshmen. I can read your mind right now: "...back when I was in school we hazed the freshmen. We had fun, they expected it, and nobody got hurt. Someone always has to ruin the fun." Well, that fun included deaths from alcohol poisoning, sexual assaults and other fun stuff, so someone decided to re-examine all those traditions and do away with some.
As I've said before, it's mankind's responsibility to look at everything. Things that are working for society, keep or tweek. For things that have served their purpose but aren't working for society anymore, get rid of or fix it. Traditions are great, but after a while all traditions can use a little tweeking, especially if their not working for everyone.
Whether you get married by a Justice of the Peace or a priest or you just go to city hall... whether you have a reception, go on a honeymoon or get a bite for lunch afterwards... any way you cut it... you are married with a marriage license that's recognized in every state.
Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships stop short of allowing same sex couples marriage rights and it's not recognized across statelines. All they want are equal rights when it comes to marriage rights.
Call it something else. "Wife" and "husband" should be reserved for heterosexual marriages. "Partner" was working all these years for homosexual partners. "Marriage" for heterosexual couples and "Civil Unions" for homosexual couples.
Just change the parameters of a Civil Union, and the problem would be solved. End of story.
It's not about religion. It's about rights. It's not about moral decay. It's about two people that love each other.
Today's Supreme Court case is about two women who are in love and raising a family together... three kids! They want to protect their family. That's far from moral decay.
Whom am I to judge who one loves and why? I'm not perfect at it either... neither are half the married couples in this great nation.