ethel’s words

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Marriage exists in nature. It is as sacred to the Chickadee as it is to humans. Marriage in human cultures, the same as marriage among non-human animals, is in various forms. Many animals and birds are strictly monogamous, some mating once only, and for life. Some are promiscuous. The marriage ceremonies of birds are charming and touching. The battering duels of some mammals--we think of mountain goats--are fearful.

Marriage in human cultures, though instinctive, is also a fiction that serves the needs of the group, usually adorned with religious overtones. In ancient cultures, where “church” and state were one (look at City-states) marriage became the creature of both, as it is in the U.S. of America today.

The forms of marriage included group marriage: all persons of one group were married to all persons of a second group. But members within the groups were not allowed to marry each other. This is only one of countless examples.

There is a considerable literature on the structuring of marriage, clans, phratries, and family forms. The narrow, strict idea of a marriage style held by some religions is a fiction based on ignorance and hubris.

Control or regulation of marriage by government provides many protections and advantages. (There are scientific reasons for some prohibitions.) To suggest that marriage--a pledge of lifetime companionship--should be valid in only one strict form, that excludes many cultures and persons from societal benefits, becomes hateful bigotry.

Ethel C. Hale