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Anti-Marriage Equality Arguments Rooted In Ethnocentrism

09/02/09-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
wedding“Societies have always regulated who could marry. Brothers and sisters cannot legally marry, for example, nor can anyone marry someone underage or marry multiple people.” This is the central argument of an editorial by Marc R. Mutty in the Sun Journal out of Maine.

Mr. Mutty is trying hard to find a way to say that marriage is not a civil right. It might interest Mr. Mutty that societies do not define who can and cannot marry. Cultures do that. Societies are, basically, based upon borders. That might sound strange, but really, a society is based solely upon the national border. Vermont is a society. The United States is a society. Canada is a society. Within each of those entities is a variety of cultures swirling around bouncing off each other and fighting for dominance. Societies are little more than borders.

Now, a variety of cultures do define marriage. One of the things that a variety of different societies count as marriage might shock people. Muslims are, by Sharia, allowed up to four wives. The culture known as Islam (which overlaps with the religion), believes in polygamy. Celtic and many Native American cultures allowed for multiple partner marriages. The Ancient Egyptians allowed for brothers and sisters in the royal tier of the culture to marry and have children. In fact, it was almost obligatory.
Now, here is the shocker. Marriage between two men or two women occur in a variety of different cultures. The Celts appear to have had marriage between people of the same sex. The Ottawa and other Native American cultures also did. These cultures are just as legitimate in the eyes of many, but not in the eyes of men like Marc Mutty. In truth, in his eyes, any culture except for his own is not legitimate. This is known as ethnocentrism. He believes that his own subculture of the American culture based upon a Biblical belief in the way that the culture should be is legitimate.

Mr. Mutty tries, desperately, to explain how the issue of same-sex marriage is different than misogyny. He brings up children. The usual run of examples always apply about putting an end to marriages between old people and childless couples applies here. What he fails at, though, is his own point. Societies within the American Conglomerate defined marriage as being racially pure. The culture of America said that was wrong. It was not based upon the notion of the couples involved having children, but upon the right of one person to marry the person that they loved whether or not they had children. Modern America does not see marriage as being about children. The majority of cultures in the history of the world did not see marriage as being about children, but rather about economics and property. You did not get married and have children just to have children. It was not about reproduction. It was about having someone to pass that property to when you kicked it.

In the history of the Western World, the culture was not about having children for the sake of having children. Children were had to help out around the farm, make money, have someone to give the property to, and hope that they’re around when you get old. Unless that people like Mr. Mutty want to return specifically to a time when this culture was based in agrarianism, the old ideas of marriage are no longer necessary, and no longer valid in arguing about who should be allowed marriage rights.

Marriage is no longer about children, property, or any of the other issues that men like Mr. Mutty want to believe that they are. Their arguments are no longer valid. That is, if they ever were. For those who are against marriage, such as in Maine, their arguments are based in a belief that only their culture is the right one, and that all others are lesser. It is easy to see in every argument they make where they assume that their cultural beliefs are the beliefs of all cultures in the world.



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5 Responses to Anti-Marriage Equality Arguments Rooted In Ethnocentrism

  1. Matthew

    November 17, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    This article was very helpful, I am not Gay but I think every one should have equal opportunities. I am currently working on a paper that has deal with prejudice,discrimination,ethnocentrism and cultural relativism and I think this going be an excellent angle for the paper, your article inspired me.

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  3. charlie

    September 2, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Wow. I read this headline and thought, “Another person trying to inflate homophobia to racism. Isn’t homophobia bad enough without having to explain what it’s ‘really’ about?” But I read the article and I have to say, it’s exactly right. The same way that some will claim it’s a Christian thing, completely ignoring the churches that DO agree with marriage equality. Some folks just want to believe that their ways are right and everyone else’s are wrong, inferior. It’s arrogance, ethnocentrism, and it really is bigoted against more than just gays. Thank you for pointing out what I hadn’t noticed before.

    • Sei

      September 2, 2009 at 8:32 pm


      You are welcome. I chose my words carefully, and I did want to point out that there really is this assumption that all cultures see the world the same way that these guys do. And thank you for the complement.

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