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Basic Rights

Marriage Laws

Kinds of Marriage

Changes in Marriage

Current Movement

Religious Arguments

Arguments Against Marriage

Child Raising Issue

Current Laws that are Changing


Essential Question- Should Marriage be Considered A Basic Right in America Today?
By Laura M.

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Throughout the years many people have tried to come up with a common definition of marriage, but so far no one has been able to come up with a universally accepted definition. The structure, function and meaning of marriage can be very different from culture to culture (David 472). That is one main reason that a common definition cannot be agreed on. One popular western definition of marriage is a legal arrangement between one man and one woman, that are in a mutual relationship which serves many purposes (David 471). Some purposes that marriage can serve are; cementing family ties, gaining social status, and economic security (Rauch 16). Marriage changes and evolvesas American societies needs change.

Many different kinds of marriage have the same basic idea behind them; the idea that a couple will be there to support each other for the rest of their lives. For this reason marriage is often defined as a life-long bond between two people, one man and one woman. There are some variations on this basic definition. One variation, common law marriage, is a bond between one man and one woman who live together and act as if they are a married couple, but have not had a ceremony with any religious body or the government. This kind of marriage can get very confusing, because if the couple lives together long enough the state government might consider the couple to be legally married even without having a ceremony or obtaining a marriage licenses (David 472-474). This shows that if two people, one man and one woman, want to obtain marriage rights there is a way for them to do so, without having to getting married. Another kind of marriage is covenant marriage, which is a marriage that is harder to obtain and harder to get out of. Covenant marriage requires pre-marital counseling and the only divorce option is a fault divorce. Divorce can only be obtained for specific fault reasons like abuse or adultery. Covenant marriage is a recent development and is only offered in a few states (“Changes”). Though covenant marriage and common law marriage differ from the most common definition, they have the same concept in the end, a life-long legal bond between two adults.

Historically there have been some non-standard forms of marriage that are no longer legal or practiced today. Polygamy, also referred to as plural marriage, is where there is one husband and more than one wife (David 473). Members of the Mormon religion practiced Polygamy until the late 19th century (“Changes”). Group marriage is a practice, where there are multiple husbands and multiple wives living together as though they are all married to each other. No known society has ever used this kind of marriage consistently (David 473). Polygamy and Group marriage are two of many examples that show how social views and the definition of marriage can and do vary greatly from culture to culture.