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Marriages and Civil Unions:

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Quotations reflecting different concepts of marriage:

  • An Apache Blessing: "Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be the shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be the warmth to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. Go now to your dwelling, to enter into the days of your life together, and may your days be good and long upon the earth."

  • Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, 1992-JAN-8: "I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period."

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Marriage has been an amazingly flexible institution. It is and has been in a continuous state of flux. During various eras and different locations:

It has been a purely secular ceremony. It has been a deeply religious ritual. In some Christian denominations, it is a sacrament.
It has been regarded as a life-long commitment. It has been a temporary handfasting which expired after a year-and-a-day, or even a short-term marriage while a man is on a business trip. 
It has symbolized the transfer of the near absolute ownership and control of a woman from her father to her husband. It has recognized the relationship of two independent individuals, who enter marriage as equals, and treat each other accordingly.
In the past, marriages have been restricted to two persons in some cultures, and allowed to be more than two in others. In the Bible, Solomon was said to have 700 wives and 300 concubines. In predominately Christian countries, marriages have been limited to two persons. In predominately Muslim countries, polygyny is occasionally practiced. This is a form of polygamy with one man and up to four wives. Polygyny is practiced among fundamentalist Mormon denominations in Utah, and British Columbia in Canada, where it is illegal but rarely prosecuted .
In the past, some African-Americans and inter-racial couples have not been permitted to marry. Currently, with few exceptions based on age or familial relationships, any opposite-sex couple, no matter what their race, can marry.
In the past, only opposite-sex couples were permitted to marry. Same-sex couples can now marry in a growing number of jurisdictions, including -- as of 2014-MAR-01 -- 17 states and the District of Columbia, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, England, Wales, New Zealand South Africa, Spain, and 8 other countries.
In the past, 1,138 federal -- and a few hundred state -- rights, privileges, benefits, and protections have been restricted to heterosexual married couples throughout the U.S.. Committed gay and lesbian couples can now get about 400 rights and privileges in the District of Columbia and a growing number of states where they are allowed to marry. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) once denied them federal rights and privileges of marriage. However, Section 3 of DOMA was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, making 1,138 federal benefits availalble to some same-sex married couples. They have receive full marital benefits in Canada since mid-2005.

Currently, the rights of loving, committed same-sex couples in North America is in a rapid state of flux. They are permitted to marry in the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New York, and a growing number of other states. In a few states, U.S., gay and lesbian couples may register their relationship in some states as civil unions or domestic partnerships, and gain certain benefits and protection for themselves and their children.  However, same-sex couples who have have married or entered into civil unions or domestic partnerships in other states lack the 1,138 rights, obligations and privileges that the Federal government automatically gives to all married couples.

Same-sex marriages have been routinely solemnized throughout Canada since mid-2005. Same-sex spouses receive full provincial and federal government benefits, protections and privileges for themselves and their children.

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Topics covered in this section:

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Related section in this web site:

bulletDivorce and remarriage

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Useful references:

  • The United Apostolic Church International maintains a list of "General Marriage Laws" describing state regulations concerning  who may perform marriages and how marriages are to be registered in the U.S. See:

  • The Get Your Wedding Favors web site sells unique and elegant wedding favors, gifts, photo albums, etc. See:

  • XandyrGifts & Wedding Favors also sell unique wedding favors and mementos. See:

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Home > "Hot" topics > here

or Home > Religious info > Basic religious info > Religious practices > here

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Copyright © 2000 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-MAY-31
Latest update: 2014-MAR-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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