There’s No Such Thing As ‘Traditional’ Marriage

There is no such thing as “traditional” marriage — there is the idea and practice of marriage, but one cannot claim a specific trait to define for everyone the uniting of two people together under the law.

Think of it this way — Christmas. Many families hold traditions surrounding Christmas, but traditions vary from family to family — from country to country — from being Christian and celebrating the birth of Christ, to being secular and expecting Santa Claus to come down the chimney. There is no solid, definitive Christmas “tradition” to adhere to — it is all in the eye of the beholder, or those practicing their individual family traditions. And everyone has the freedom to do so.

The literal definition of “tradition” is:

“The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.”

So, to put it simply, if it is the “tradition” in your specific family or church or religion to marry a person of the opposite gender, then that is your specific tradition. It is not the broad definition of marriage for an entire civilization. It is a hugely myopic generalization to believe that your specific tradition is the way everyone should live and function within a civilized and secular society. A society of many traditions, religions, and ways of life that, essentially — don’t match up on many levels. Why is the “definition of marriage” any different? It’s not.

The idea of “one man and one woman” is a specific tradition for one subset of human beings that are part of the whole, but do not define that whole. Those who believe this way, in a free society, as the United States is, are allowed to marry under these standards of living. However, not everyone falls under these same “standards” and thus cannot be required to comply with such individualistic rules.

The United States is a beautiful nation with an abundance of traditions that have shaped our society and made us as wonderful and complex as we are. So, when people say things like, “you are trying to change the definition of marriage” — what is the definition to begin with? Societal “norms” are not a living truth for all.

What it comes down to is this — marriage is a state contract. It can be a religious ceremony to those who choose to believe it is, but it is a contract given by the state uniting two people as one singular unit. (“By the power invested in me by the state of ______, I pronounce you… “) Those who conduct marriage ceremonies don’t say, “by the power invested in me by the church of ____” — it is a state contract. And under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution:

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

There are 1,138 benefits, rights, and protections provided on the basis of marital status in Federal Law.

If those rights and protections are not granted to all citizens, including LGBT citizens, they are having their 14th Amendment rights violated because they are directly being denied equal protection under the law.

There is no such thing as “traditional marriage” — individual traditions are just that, individual, and are not a definition for all of a society that prides itself on equality under the law.

At the end of the day, marriage is a union of two people in love, and it’s really just as simple as that. Everyone has the right to this union, regardless of tradition.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/photoshop