Defining Legal Marriage in America

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Defining American Marriage
From a historical perspective, marriages have always been recognized as important to the security and future of a state (Brake, 2012). Procreation created a labor force and armies, while family units were an efficient method for creating good citizens. For this reason, governments throughout human history have sought to legally sanction and protect marriage in its various forms, as long as the goals of marriage aligned with the goals of the state. In the United States, marriage prior to the 1970s was defined in terms of gender-specific roles and divorce was discouraged by the imposition of sanctions. Well-defined gender roles in marriage and the long-term preservation of the family unit were therefore perceived to be in the best interests of American Society until the 1970s. In the aftermath of the feminist movement, however, gender roles were eliminated and no fault divorce legislation was passed in many states.
Religions have often played a major role historically in defining and representing state authority and one of the best examples is the Catholic Church. The newly elected Catholic Pope issued his first encyclical last month and in it he defined marriage as an institution available only to unions between one man and one woman (Hallowell, 2013). However, the U.S. is supposed to be a secular state and therefore largely immune to religious influence. This is frequently not the case and the religious right has been viewed as responsible for
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