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Judge Walker: Clueless about the “Historical Core” of Marriage

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:28 pm - August 5, 2010.
Filed under: Constitutional Issues,Gay Marriage

While Judge Walker is right about one thing in his discussion of marriage, but dead-wrong about another:

Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage. . . . Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals.

“Miscegenation” laws prohibiting marriages between individuals of different races were a statutory invention.  The historical (as well as literary, see, e.g., Othello) record is full of such marriages.

Sex difference, however, has always been at the core of the definition of marriage  — long before governments recognized such unions.  If you don’t believe me, I suggest you study the marriage rituals of any culture; you’ll find that each treats the bride and groom differently.

Or, look at the cultures which have recognized same-sex unions.  They either called them something other than marriage or required that one spouse live in the guise of the opposite sex — at a time when sexual roles were far more stratified that they are today.  In Native American cultures (called either berdache or Two-Spirit), that meant that in male-male unions partner not only had to dress like a woman, but perform or social roles as well.

With his opinion, one federal judge both demonstrates a cluelessness about the history of marriage and a determination to remove one of its defining aspects from its legal meaning.



  1. Luckily the constitution does not enshrine your prejudices, so you are pretty likely to see this judgement upheld.

    So then calling different things by different names is prejudice?

    Comment by Michael Ejercito — August 7, 2010 @ 1:38 am - August 7, 2010

  2. Still manfully struggling for your status as a second-class citizen, eh, Gaytriot? Keep reaching for that lack of a rainbow.

    Comment by Jack Elam — August 7, 2010 @ 8:20 am - August 7, 2010

  3. How do we justify giving a group of Americans (married people) a different set of rights/benefits than single persons?

    How do they, through a private arrangement between members of their group, expand their rights to something beyond what individual Americans are entitled to? How does an agreement between any two people grant them greater access to community resources?

    Were same-sex couples denied equality, or were they denied the same ‘preference’, the same ‘special access’ to government services, that couples of different-sex unions enjoy?

    All individuals are equal, but pairs of individuals are more equal???

    Comment by gastorgrab — August 7, 2010 @ 11:27 am - August 7, 2010

  4. gastorgrab,

    Yes, we have equal access in the institution of marriage. The fact that a gay couple has to adapt to society is the same as my having to adapt to a normal pair of scissors, or driving for that matter.

    Comment by The_Livewire — August 7, 2010 @ 7:41 pm - August 7, 2010

  5. Still manfully struggling for your status as a second-class citizen, eh, Gaytriot? Keep reaching for that lack of a rainbow.

    If calling homosexual unions a different name than heterosexual unions means that homosexuals are second-class citizens, maybe we should stop calling homosexuals homosexual.

    Comment by Michael Ejercito — August 8, 2010 @ 1:06 pm - August 8, 2010

  6. Why don’t we call them ‘The Wolverines’? That’s a cool name.


    I sincerely regret my comments from 10 seconds ago, and in no way meant to imply that Wolverines were anything other that furry little animals with a bad attitude.

    I apologize! My comments were both insensitive and unfair.

    Comment by gastorgrab — August 8, 2010 @ 8:35 pm - August 8, 2010

  7. […]  This is not to say that it always must remain that way, but a reminder that sex difference, to borrow an expression, is the “historical core” of […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Sex difference at core of classical definition of marriage — August 16, 2010 @ 1:54 pm - August 16, 2010

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