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These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel At the very heart of the debate about same-sex marriage is the definition of the word "marriage".
To some people, it changes to meet social and economic needs, to others it remains firmly fixed. So what has the institution meant down the years? Much of the recent debate has focused on the notion of who "owns" marriage - the Church or the State. Both, however, have played key roles at different times in the history of the institution.
Strategic alliances Image caption An Anglo-Saxon wife spins, while the farmer or "husbandman" cultivates the ground For the Anglo-Saxons and Britain's early tribal groups, marriage was all about relationships - just not in the modern sense. The Anglo-Saxons saw marriage as a strategic tool to establish diplomatic and trade ties, says Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage.
This all changed with the differentiation of wealth. Parents were no longer content to marry their children off to just "anyone in a neighbouring group". They wanted to marry them to somebody as least as wealthy and powerful as themselves, Coontz says.
Consent In conjugal debt the woman has equal rights to the man and the man to the woman so that neither a wife may make a vow of abstinence without the consent of her husband, nor the husband without the consent of his wife Decretum Gratiani During the 11th Century, marriage was about securing an economic or political advantage.
The wishes of the married couple - much less their consent - were of little importance. The bride, particularly, was assumed to bow to her father's wishes and the marriage arrangements made on her behalf. However, for the Benedictine monk Gratian the consent of the couple mattered more than their family's approval.
Gratian brought consent into the fold of formalised marriage in with his canon law textbook, Decretum Gratiani. The Decretum required couples to give their verbal consent and consummate the marriage to forge a marital bond.
No longer was a bride or groom's presence at a ceremony enough to signify their assent. The book formed the foundation for the Church's marriage policies in the 12th Century and "set out the rules for marriage and sexuality in a changing social environment", says historian Joanne Bailey of Oxford Brookes University.
The sacrament of marriage As early as the 12th Century, Roman Catholic theologians and writers referred to marriage as a sacrament, a sacred ceremony tied to experiencing God's presence.
However, it wasn't until the Council of Trent in that marriage was officially deemed one of the seven sacraments, says Elizabeth Davies, of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. Following the development of Protestant theology, which did not recognise marriage as a sacrament, the Council felt a need to "clarify" marriage's place.
Wedding vows Image caption In sickness and in health Marriage vows, as couples recite them today, date back to Thomas Cranmer, the architect of English Protestantism. Cranmer laid out the purpose for marriage and scripted modern wedding vows nearly years ago in his Book of Common Prayersays the Reverend Duncan Dormor of St John's College at the University of Cambridge.
Although the book was revised in and"the guts of the marriage service are there in ," he says. But much of it was "pilfered from Catholic medieval rites", such as the Sarum marriage liturgy, which was all in Latin except the actual vows.
Divorce Image caption Collecting evidence for a divorce Beforedivorce was rare. This created a precedent for parliamentary divorces on the grounds of the wife's adultery, according to the National Archives.
It also set the precedent for more than cases between the late 17th and midth Centuries - each requiring an act of Parliament. It was only in that divorce could be carried out via legal process.
Even then divorce was too expensive for most people, and there was the added challenge for wives of proving "aggravated" adultery - that their husbands had been guilty of cruelty, desertion, bigamy, incest, sodomy or bestiality, Probert says. The gates for divorce opened with the Divorce Reform Act of Instead of pointing the finger, couples could cite marital breakdown as the reason for the split.
State control The Clandestine Marriage Act ofpopularly known as Lord Hardwicke's Act, marked the beginning of state involvement in marriage, says sociologist Carol Smart of the University of Manchester.This essay will identify how modern day society is changing with regards to family structure in particular marriage, cohabitation, step families and lone parenting explaining how this may or may not impact on parenting practices in turn influencing the outcome of children and the formation of their identities.
In , the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act extended to right to marry to gay couples in England and Wales, effectively permitting same-sex couples to choose between civil partnership or marriage.
In there had been over 5, civil partnerships in England in Wales. Marriage definition is - the state of being united as spouses in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.
How to use marriage in a sentence. Hodges — compare civil union. 2: the ceremony containing certain legal formalities by which a marriage relationship is . Also, unlike traditional families, in a modern family it is usually a single parent raising the children/progeny instead of having both the mother, father and children living .
In , they approached the American Civil Liberties Union to fight their case in court. After an extensive legal battle, the Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting interracial marriage were.
Alison Diduck The Unmodified Family: The Child Support Act and the Construction of Legal Subjects. Journal of Law and Society. 22, 4 (), –