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Traditional Discrimination
By Denise Magditch

Every country and culture on this planet has traditions. Any person can think of at least one custom or practice in which their family has participated. One custom that looms on the minds of many young women in America is the tradition of marriage. The one day when all attention is on the beautiful bride as she marries the man she loves. The United States currently sees this as the only way a wedding can occur, and the Bush administration is demanding that it remain the tradition. The administration believes that a marriage is not traditional and not pure if it involves a couple of the same sex. What about a wedding is so traditional? Is America so hung up on traditions that they cannot see past them?

A marriage can take many forms and can include many different types of practices. Whatever form the wedding may take, a basic definition of marriage is that it is a close or intimate union between two persons.1 Before and during the wedding, many people find it satisfying if certain basic rules are followed. In the United States, one of the common customs is that the bride should wear a white dress. This dates back to 1499, when Ann of Britney wore a white dress to her wedding to Louis XII of France. Prior to this date, women simply wore their best dress they had, regardless of color.2 Another common practice is for the couple to exchange rings. The wedding ring was originally used in the Middle East as currency before they began using coins. The early Romans adopted this symbol to show the love and commitment the two partners have for each other.3 A third custom is that of the wedding kiss. The kiss dates back to the earliest days of civilization in the Middle East. A kiss was used as the formal seal to agreements and contracts, and holds the same meaning in a wedding. The kiss successfully seals the two people together in marriage.3

A wedding seems to need to have one or more traditional parts to it in order to make it official. It makes sense to include these or other family traditions in the wedding, as it carries on the name and honor of the generations before them. Unfortunately, it is not clear as to why the Bush administration seems to hold the traditions of marriage more important than the people involved in them. Recently, the United States senate rejected an amendment to the constitution to make same-sex marriages illegal. President Bush has expressed his disappointment that this has happened, but views the situation as a temporary block. "A constitutional amendment should never be undertaken lightly - yet to defend marriage, our nation has no other choice,"4 he is quoted as saying. However, many gay and lesbian couples do not feel the same way. "Under this new legislation, I could give a bum on the streets medical power of attorney over me but I could not give it to my partner,"5 states Kate Anderson. Anderson is the executive director at the Columbus, Ohio division of Stonewall, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization. She, her partner, and other homosexual couples believe they should be granted the same human rights as heterosexual couples. They want rights that include federal benefits, such as the right to file joint tax returns or receive social security benefits if one partner dies.6

What seems to be common sense is being made out as an enormous moral dilemma. What should be a happy time for a couple in love is becoming a long and drawn out process. It appears that the traditions and "sanctity of marriage" that this administration holds so dear are simply a front for something much more sinister: blatant discrimination. If this were simply about tradition, then why would said traditions need to be static and unchanging? While the customs mentioned in this article are important, people are constantly changing and molding them to fit their personal lifestyle. Many brides do wear white to their wedding, but it is not imperative that they do so. Why then, is it so very important to deny homosexual couples the right to marry? Anderson believes she has the answer: "It's no longer about marriage: it's about zero tolerance for gays and lesbians in this country."7

1 Definition source
2 Information source
3 Information source
4 BBC News, Bush Vows to Pursue Gay Union Ban
5 Matthew Wells, The Guardian, Love Will Tear Us Apart, 14 July 2004
6 BBC News, The Gay Marriage Map
7 Matthew Wells, The Guardian, Love Will Tear Us Apart, 14 July 2004

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