Far from being a union of one man and one woman, marriage, for most of human history, has been the union of two men: the husband and father-in-law's wealth and property. Marriage was a business arrangement in which love was highly incidental. Forget kids or compatibility, the only thing guaranteed going in was a well-negotiated contract.
This week the Supreme Court took up the debate over same-sex unions. As Justice Roberts remarked on Wednesday, political leaders have been "falling all over themselves" to endorse marriage equality. Fine. But why do so many gays and lesbians want their romantic relationships recognized by the state in the first place?
There are, of course, bureaucratic matters: tax breaks, hospital visitations, and other federal benefits many same-sex couples are currently denied.
This same conversation is happening at Catholic universities all over the country, as increasingly queer-friendly young people come up against university's traditional, anti-gay policies. Both Notre Dame and the Catholic University of America have had very public discussions about the role of schools in requiring a strict adherence to Catholic orthodoxy as students on campus pushed to create gay-friendly student groups.
Elena Kostyuchenko (in the yellow hat) at the pro-gay Day of Kisses protest.
On January 25, 2013 the Russian State Duma swiftly passed a bill banning the "promotion of homosexuality." The bill will have to undergo two more readings and be signed by the Russian president before it becomes law. If this happens, it will give the Russian government the right to fine publications and individuals up to half a million dollars for "promoting homosexuality." Meanwhile, the law does not define what constitutes "promoting" and conflates homosexuality with, among other things, pedophilia. LGBT rights activists speculate that the passage of this law will lead to the government shutting down organizations, websites, and print publications that support the already besieged Russian LGBT community.
Protests for LGBT rights in Russia have a history of violence. Along with those brave enough to participate in them, protests often attract thugs calling themselves Russian Orthodox activists who pelt the LGBT protesters with eggs and physically attack them. The thugs discuss their plans for the beatings in their online forums on V Kontakte (a Russian version of Facebook), and cover their faces with scarves and masks in order to avoid being identified. Although the police are always present at such protests, the Orthodox activists seems to have their tacit approval.