Marriage historian testifies in Prop. 8 trial in San Francisco

Historians in the News

A Harvard history professor testified in San Francisco federal court today that procreation has never been the central purpose of marriage in the United States.

Professor Nancy Cott, who has written a book about the history of marriage in the United States, noted that George Washington, the father of the nation, was sterile. Procreation was one of the purposes of marriage but not "the central or defining purpose," Cott testifed. The larger purpose was to create stable households, she said.

Cott was called to the stand by lawyers for two same-sex couples who want to overturn Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that reinstated a marriage ban for gay and lesbian couples....

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