Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cott on the History of Marriage Laws

Nancy Cott has an article, “No Objections: What History Tells Us About Gay Marriage,” on the history of marriage laws in the latest issue of the Boston Review. Cott writes:

Opponents of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples say that marriage has always been between a man and a woman and must remain so. They argue from “tradition.” Counter to their claims is an argument from history—a history of change over time.

Many features of marriage that were once considered essential have been remade, often in the face of strong resistance, by courts and legislatures. Economic and social changes have led to increasing legal equality for the marriage partners, gender-neutrality of spousal roles, and control of marital role-definition by spouses themselves rather than by state prescription. Yet marriage itself has lasted, despite these dramatic changes. Not only that: it retains vast appeal.

Read the rest of the article here.