Same-Sex Marriage in History

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tags: gay history, LGBT, same-sex marriage, gay marriage



Several U.S. Supreme Court Justices asked for a history lesson on same-sex marriage last week, but the answers they got were far from complete, experts say.

Three of the nine justices asked for a legal precedence of same-sex marriage, when they listened on April 28 to arguments on whether the institution should be, in essence, legal and recognized countrywide. ...

During an exchange with Mary Bonauto, one of the lawyers arguing for the plaintiffs, who are in favor of same-sex marriage, Justice Antonin Scalia said, "But I don't know of any — do you know of any society, prior to the Netherlands in 2001, that permitted same­-sex marriage?"

Bonauto answered that, as a legal matter, she did not.

In fact, same-sex marriage has happened throughout the ages, although some cultures might view it through a different lens, experts told Live Science.

Here's a look at a few of these unions from cultures around the world, including ancient Rome, Native American people in the American Plains and pre-colonial Africa.

Same-sex precedence

Ancient Romans, or at least Roman men with power and wealth, could marry same-sex partners, said Elizabeth Abbott, author of "A History of Marriage" (Seven Stories Press, 2011).

Emperor Nero (ruled A.D. 54 to A.D. 68) castrated a boy named Sporus to make him womanlike, and then married him in a traditional ceremony, which included a bridal veil and a dowry, according to the Roman historian and biographer Suetonius (circa A.D. 69).

Emperor Elagabalus (ruled A.D. 218 to A.D. 222) married Zoticus, a famous male athlete, and referred to his slave, a man named Hierocles, as his husband, Abbott said.

There are also texts referring to lesbian relationships, but not marriages, in ancient Rome, Abbott said. Perhaps these women did not have enough power or influence to actually marry, she said. ...




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