Thursday, July 07, 2005

Heterosexuals destroyed marriage

Stephanie Coontz sends a memo to the defenders of traditional marriage, and those who shriek in horror at the concept of gay matrimony, in a NY Times opinion piece. She writes:

Traditional marriage, with its 5,000-year history, has already been upended. Gays and lesbians, however, didn't spearhead that revolution: heterosexuals did.

Heterosexuals were the upstarts who turned marriage into a voluntary love relationship rather than a mandatory economic and political institution. Heterosexuals were the ones who made procreation voluntary, so that some couples could choose childlessness, and who adopted assisted reproduction so that even couples who could not conceive could become parents. And heterosexuals subverted the long-standing rule that every marriage had to have a husband who played one role in the family and a wife who played a completely different one. Gays and lesbians simply looked at the revolution heterosexuals had wrought and noticed that with its new norms, marriage could work for them, too.
Coontz's work is usually good. She has a new book out on the themes iterated in her Times and recent Washington Post pieces, and her past work on the history of the family unit is worth checking out, too.