“Traditional marriage” was not about sanctity or God or even procreation. “Traditional marriage” was a property agreement that was entered into by two men.

This country adopted the English law of coverture, which meant “traditional marriage” was a transfer of a woman’s legal rights from her father to her husband. Traditionally, women abandoned their father’s name and adopted their husband’s for no sentimental reason but because their personhood had been passed in a legal transaction from one man to another (much like the name on a deed changes when a piece of land is bought or sold).

When you advocate for “traditional marriage,” you are not advocating for loving partnerships between men and women exclusively — you are advocating for a model that has nothing to do with love or mutual benefit but revolves around the assumption that women are a commodity to be bought and sold.

–Carina Kolodny on why we should stop making apologies for “traditional” marriage.

As a disclaimer: I’m married, and I “believe” in marriage in the equals-forming-a-new-family-under-the-law sense.

But the phrase “traditional marriage” (or “natural marriage”, which seems to be So Hot Right now and sounds like something you buy from Whole Foods) is a dogwhistle that tells me the speaker holds views about marriage that are antithetical to my own. Not to mention that I’m an atheist, and “traditional marriage” almost always refers to some sort of theistic doctrine I don’t subscribe to.

The good thing about marriage is that it’s a pretty universal human arrangement. Almost all cultures on the planet and throughout time have done it in some form, and often many forms. This is good because it shows marriage is incredibly adaptive to social change. As an institution it has survived gods and outlived empires, and it’s actually really difficult to imagine something that would disrupt it into non-existence. Even the most obvious, i.e. “everyone becomes sterile”/”children are bred by robots”, wouldn’t seem to be a certainty, given the small-but-solid number of of couples who marry now knowing they can’t have and/or don’t want children (q.v. yours truly).

Whatever the reason, it seems that the vast majority of humans just really want to get married. (Although, disclaimer: if you don’t, that’s cool too. Not getting married also has an ancient, cross-cultural heritage!)

The point, I think, is the marriage is here to stay. But the only “tradition” that it has?

Is that it changes.