In order to start a civil discussion about same-sex marriage in America, we asked people from our Public Insight Network to tell us the stories behind their thoughts on the matter AND to give us questions they’d ask people who think differently about the issue than they do.
David from Deerwood, Minn., takes the long view of “tradition” by posing this question:
Why are you comfortable ignoring the multi-millennial shared understanding of what constitutes marriage?
We put David’s question to people who support same-sex marriage and here are some of the answers we received:
Laura from Edina, Minn.:
Why did we become comfortable ignoring the multi-millennial shared understanding of the institution of slavery? Our understanding evolves.
Chance from Burlington, N.J.:
For much of history, I believe that marriage has been as much a function of economics as it has been of love. Setting aside the treatment of women as chattel in early marriage, marriage has been a trade-off of house-keeping and child-rearing for financial support.
In recent times, romance and love have become more important to the nature of marriage, but that simply has not been the case throughout much of history. Most marriages were arranged by the families, and in a large part of the world they still are.
Additionally, for much of the past 2000 years in western civilization, marriage has been part of a religious tradition. Not everyone shares that religious tradition. I can see why same-sex marriage may be uncomfortable for someone from within a religious tradition that feels that it is opposed to their belief structure.
Chuck from Milan, Minn.:
Marriage has meant many different things in different times and places, from common law to polygamy to group to temporary. It is those who insist on only one model who ignore this fact.
Melissa from Minneapolis, Minn.:
I’m not ignoring it. Define marriage however you wish to define it within the confines of your private and religious life. People in committed relationships deserve the same societal rights, protections, and advantages granted to those in “traditional” marriages.
Civil marriage has evolved over time as our society has matured and our attitudes toward different populations have changed. Women used to be considered marital property. People of different races were once barred from marrying. These aspects of marriage have changed without destroying the institution.