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Thread: Homosexual Marriage

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    Homosexual Marriage

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    Please read the whole thing before responding
    I put this here because I was interested in people's thoughts, but figured it may turn in to a debate. The articles can be found here:
    Natural: http://www.aaanet.org/press/an/0405if-comm4.htm
    Unnatural: http://www.nationalreview.com/commen...0504260810.asp



    Issue 12, Is Gay Marriage Natural? From the text Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Anthropology, 4th Edition.


    Is homosexual marriage a naturally occurring social practice? Or is marriage defined as being only between a man and a woman? Both sides are presented, although one can argue that they are more personally motivated and influenced than some other issues. By looking back in history and examining our current times, we can get a deeper sense of whether or not homosexually is traditionally linked with marriage. In the following paper, I will present both sides of the issue, as well as my personal view as to whether or not homosexual marriage is natural practice.


    Cultural anthropologist Linda S. Stone states that gay marriage is natural. She says that the term “Marriage” is dynamic, and ever-changing.
    “... what anthropologists have learned is that from a global, cross-cultural perspective, 'marriage' is in the first place extremely difficult, some would say impossible, to define.”1
    The practice of marriage and its different applications are culturally ethnocentric and what is deemed acceptable depends greatly on local beliefs. There are tribes in Africa that practice a form of gay marriage.
    For example, woman-woman marriage among the Nuer and some other African groups. Here, a barren woman divorces her husband, takes another woman as her wife, and arranges for a surrogate to impregnate this woman.2
    In this instance, there is a clearly defined female to female relationship, resulting in family ties and alliances, as well as provisions for the couples offspring.


    It is well understood that all cultures change over time. What was acceptable or unacceptable 300 years ago is different at least in some way in the current society.


    In contrast, Peter Wood, a professor of anthropology at Boston University, believes that gay marriage is not a naturally occurring practice. He says:
    In fact, some 150 years of systematic inquiry by anthropologists leaves little doubt that heterosexual marriage is found in nearly every human society and almost always as a pivotal institution. Homosexual marriage outside contemporary Western societies is exceedingly rare and never the basis of 'viable social order.'3
    Mr. Wood also states that:
    Possibly gay marriage will be a step forward for humanity; but it is a step into the dark. Civilization as we have known it, even on the western coast of Sumatra, has depending until now upon an exclusive heterosexual marriage.


    To me, it seems that Peter Wood is personally against gay marriage, although my assumption could be incorrect. I draw this from the opening of his article, in which he writes:
    Ideologically, I suppose this is what one has come to expect from the AAA: a reflexive affirmation of leftist pieties. But still, it is surprising to see a professional organization propound such a breathless lie. As an AAA member for some 25 years, I am embarrassed. 4
    While I believe both authors are trying to be objective, religion may influence them without them being fully aware. In some religions, homosexuality is a cardinal sin, punishable by eternal damnation. Without either authors religious views being noted in the article, it is impossible to know if this would hold influence over them.


    It is my personal believe that gay marriage is a naturally occurring practice. While Peter Wood seems to discount gay marriage due to infrequency, one could argue that it is not the frequency of an occurrence that makes it natural, but that it appears repeatedly, and is in itself a practice that holds both benefits and pitfalls. Nature cannot select exclusively for same sex attraction as it would lead to the extinction of the species, but that does not mean that the attraction itself, as well as a matrimonial bond to someone of the same sex is of itself against nature.
    Let us go back to the definition of marriage, or the lack thereof. To define marriage as “...one man, one woman, joined together to produce offspring” would be inaccurate. This definition does not work for all cultures. It does not work for all people. If one is to say that marriage is only for furtherance of ties and procreation, then that would exclude all barren couples or orphans. Furthermore, if one were to say that marriage was based on the 'One man, One woman' principle, it would exclude all polygamous or polyandrous societies. While polygamy and polyandry are not widely practiced or accepted in the American culture, it is a very real practice in other cultures around the world.


    I find it interesting that there are some people that jump to say something is “unnatural”. Society and culture are frequently changing and adapting, and while something may not have been a common practice in years past, does not mean that it will not be acceptable in the future. As humans, it is in our nature to adapt for the circumstances, as well as our surroundings. If there was a surplus of women, with less males in the population, we would find a way to adapt. Be this polygamy, an increase in female to female partnerships, or both, I see them as legitimately possible outcomes.


    Both sides present their views on what is a highly controversial and socially sensitive issue. While Peter Wood presents his side in an interesting manner, I am more inclined to side with Linda S. Stone. My view is based academically, socially, and personally. I believe that we should not be so quick to judge, or to define something that in itself is not fully definable- the human practice of marriage.





    1 Linda S. Stone, “Gay Marriage and Anthropology”, Anthropology News, May 2004, as presented in Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Anthropology, 4th Edition (New York: McGraw Hill, 2009) p. 218

    2Linda S. Stone, “Gay Marriage and Anthropology”, Anthropology News, May 2004, as presented in Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Anthropology, 4th Edition (New York: McGraw Hill, 2009) p. 219

    3Peter Wood, “The Marriage Debate Goes Multicultural”, The National Review, April 26, 2005, pp. Full article. Copyright 2005 by National Review, Inc, 215 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 1001, as presented in Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Anthropology, 4th Edition (New York: McGraw Hill, 2009) p. 221

    4Peter Wood, “The Marriage Debate Goes Multicultural”, The National Review, April 26, 2005, pp. Full article. Copyright 2005 by National Review, Inc, 215 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 1001, as presented in Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Anthropology, 4th Edition (New York: McGraw Hill, 2009) p. 221
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    #2
    I apologise for the formatting, it was a word document with a lot of indenting and the like.
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    #3
    TL;DR, dude.

    I has work in the morning. I'll come back and edit.
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    #4
    First off, "unnatural" shouldn't be made out to mean "perverted". It means that it occurs LESS than the "natural", or heterosexual marriage, in the 150 years of researched civilizations. Since the modern "Western" civilizations mentioned make up just a portion of the researched civilizations, homosexual marriage is, amongst ALL researched civilizations an unnatural occurence.

    The pro supporter refers to, by way of comparison, the "unnatural" group who practice homosexual marriage. Her studies were specifically in tribes that DO support it, his were in ALL civilizations. Nowhere in his studies did he state that homosexual marriage DID NOT occur, he said it occured LESS than man-woman marriage.
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    #5
    "voter" used to mean "land-owning white male"
    but we changed the definition to suit the populace....

    one of the wonderful things about words is they are never inert.


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    #7
    I don't like the terms "natural" and "unnatural".

    I don't think gay marriage is anyone's business. I think if two people want to be married, then let them. I don't think MORALS should be made apart of it.

    disclaimer: I don't find homosexuality to be morally wrong, anyway.

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