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Let's Call It 'Untraditional Marriage'


Sean Penn scolded opponents of something he called “Gay Marriage.” Apparently, he thinks gay marriage was made illegal in California. Certainly Sean, a lifelong resident of Hollywood, should recognize that gay marriage is perfectly legal and has roots all the way back to Cole Porter and Rock Hudson, both of whom are gay men who married (and wasn’t Penn married to Madonna?).

What’s not legal is same-sex marriage.

Currently, we recognize the ability for states to define the restrictions on people applying for marriage licenses. Right now in America the standard state requirements for marriage are almost universally the following:

  1. Two
  2. Unmarried
  3. Unrelated
  4. Consenting
  5. Adult
  6. Humans
  7. Of Different genders

Please note that five of the seven requirements have not always been mandatory. At certain points in history the top five (maybe six) traditional marriage requirements were not in place. (I’m having a hard time verifying number six– my Google just won’t go there without leaving a history trail I don’t want on my permanent record.) I also suggest that very few proponents of same-sex marriage would allow the other six requirements to be waived as nonchalantly as number seven.

Also note that love is not among the requirements. The idea pitched around lately is that the State has no right to keep people who love each other apart. Well, yes they do. Cousin lovers have been denied the right to marry almost everywhere outside of royalty and separatist religious sects. And as many married couples (and divorced people paying alimony) will attest, the State also has the power to keep two people together long after the love has evaporated.

I think we may need a different term. “Same-Sex Marriage” does not roll smoothly off the tongue. I propose we call it something more in line with reality. Perhaps an “Untraditional Marriage,” something I don’t have a problem with. If a State agrees that the traditional restrictions placed on marriages do not fit into modern society (as it did in the past when it banned polygamy and incest), I believe it is within the Constitutional power of the State to change those restrictions. But that’s the big beef I have with proponents of Untraditional Marriage. In every state where it was put on to the ballot, it was soundly defeated. It was only legalized by judges willing to subvert election results.

The side of the aisle whose very name claims to cherish democracy turns against it in droves when the “will of the people” is directed against them.

Maybe that’s why Sean likes Hugo and Fidel so much: they’re all staunch proponents of Untraditional Democracy.

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