There is one thing that crusaders for causes rarely worry about, future generations and how they might reflect upon changes these crusaders transform. They do not worry about what the lasting effects of any revolutionary redefinition of once stable essential structures that have been basic building-blocks for our society since we first formed clans and tribes. This is likely one of the missing considerations which are finally being broken down as the crusaders for a progressive society have apparently reached the critical tipping point in the campaign to transform the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. After thirty-two states had voted their refusal in past referendum to redefine marriage, this past election may be the initial indication that the change has begun as four states voted to redefine marriage from one man to one woman to the “enlightened” two people with no gender restrictions which were so stringently restrictive. Now that the initial eggs have been broken, we can expect over the next few election cycles for sufficient eggs to break to make a few omelets and before a decade has passed we will witness soufflés being made with so many eggs breaking. As the Dylan refrain goes, the times they are a changin’.
Future generations will have a new definition provided from birth where the normative definition of a marriage will be between two people who desire to enter a contractual relationship to face the future together hopefully in some form of nurturing environment. They will have a second definition provided in some religious publications, especially traditional editions and literal translations. There will be some more progressive, liberal, new-age translations where marriage will match the new legal definition at some time in the future, but in the near time there will be two very different definitions in much of society. This will lead to some degrees of discomfort, confusion and discord within the different factions in our society. This will work itself out with time and within a short period the new legal definition for what constitutes a marriage will become dominant and those who hold opinions counter to the new definition will take a more subdued position in expressing their views publically. There will always be a hardcore group which will take an active approach to their expressing the then dated view of marriage being between a man and a woman and they will then receive treatment similar to the treatment of those who first presented the more universal and less restrictive definition of marriage being between two people regardless of genders. The next question is obviously the one where we want to know where this change will lead.
With time will there be a call for marriage to be redefined even further? If so, what other traditional restrictions will be challenged? The first and most obvious restriction that might be challenged is the age of consent for marriage. There have already been studies which have shown that children are sexually maturing at a younger age. Should this biological change also force a change in our laws to allow marriage to reflect the change in the age of sexual maturity? Then there is the obvious number restriction on marriage. If we no longer restrict marriage to gender, then why restrict the number of people who can be held within a single marriage? This might begin with allowing marriage to include a third individual or we may simply jump all the way to a universal community marriage allowance where as many people as wish can be included in what we would likely today call a commune but in the future allow such entities to declare they are unilaterally married as a whole. I doubt that the term marriage would ever go to the more ridiculous extremes some people have claimed would result from allowing a more universal definition such as allowing people to marry an animal.
The only item that has not been addressed is what will happen should in the future a majority desire to return to the current traditional definition of a marriage. Once the laws have been changed they will be the ones who will be forced to accept the more open definition of marriage. They will join the religious conservatives who will likely still be resisting the new definition and only surrender to the extent that the law requires of them. Will those who wish to return to marriage being defined once again as between a man and a woman face the initial scorn and rejections that those proposing gay marriage initially faced? The reality is they very likely will be placed in a very similar position facing similar treatment. The whole argument will have been turned upside-down and those who claim now to be the tolerant ones pushing the borders of society further will be the ones defending the normative status-quo and being defined as the conservative ones refusing to change with the times. Once again marriage will be a topic of debate with the tables turned and all the definitions switched. I guess the more things change the more the opportunity for a future campaign to restore and unchange. The only question is will we go so far in our current changes that no return can ever be attained no matter how much we try to unchange.
Beyond the Cusp