in the quest to discriminate against others who are different, supporters of prop 8 are constantly referring to a 'traditional marriage' that same-sex marriage is threatening to destroy. for them, a 'traditional marriage' is perhaps best exemplified by the cleaver family pictured above - where ward provided for the family, disciplined his children, and offered bits of advice to the troublesome beaver; june, on the other hand, was the ideal wife and mother who spent her day at home cooking and cleaning as every good woman should.
but how traditional is this 'traditional marriage'? it all depends on how far back we want to call something 'traditional.'
before there was marriage men and women simply began cohabiting and raising children together. the institution of marriage began when women became seen as commodities that could be bought and sold in a fashion very similar to slavery. a man who wanted a particular girl to own would approach the girl's father and purchase her from him for a certain price. this is depicted in the mormon classic johnny lingo where johnny purchases mahana from her father with 8 cows. relics of this 'traditional marriage' are found in our traditions (no pun intended) of wedding rings (originally signs of slave ownership), taking the groom's name (a slave practice), and asking the bride's father for permission to marry.
'traditional marriage' was also used as an economic and political trade between familes and groups. instead of trading his daughter for money or goods, a father would barter his daughter away in exchange for trade agreements and political treatises. this form of 'traditional marriage' can still be seen in some eastern countries where arranged marriages are often performed for business purposes.
and of course, let us not forget the mormon hypocrisy of calling for 'traditional marriage' when just a hundred years ago, 'traditional marriage' looked like this:
while the 'traditional marriage' of a man and a woman and a woman and a woman and a woman and a woman and a woman was done away with just before the 20th century, 'traditional marriage' was redefined as marriage between a man and a woman of the same race. it was not until the mid-late 1960s that all prohibitions of interracial marriages were finally lifted in the united states.
until just recently my white father and japanese mother could not legally wed in certain states because it went against 'traditional marriage.' in fact, even though it was legal when they did get married, many friends and family of my father tried to dissuade him from marrying my mom because it went against 'traditional marriage.'
after 'traditional marriage' finally began to include interracial marriages, it really wasn't until the late 20th century that equality within marriage began to be an accepted part of 'traditional marriage' - and it barely even is today. still so many hold a view of 'traditional marriage' where the wife is considered inferior and submissive to her male partner, a relic of the very first form of traditional marriage.
and so today, proponents of prop 8 somehow have managed to have the audacity to think that within the last couple decades we have finally reached the pinnacle of what 'traditonal marriage' is, and want to hold this relatively young version of this myth to discriminate against others who think that our view of marriage should not be tied to its past conceptions.
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