Marriage = an institution free from state-mandated gender roles

Everyone’s saying you’ve just got to read the full text of Judge Vaughn Walker’s overturning of Prop 8 in California last Wednesday — apparently it’s a page turner! You can view it here in full. We admit, we haven’t yet read the whole thing ourselves, but thanks to Rachel Maddow, we were apprised of one particularly insightful passage that’s well worth a quick read:

The evidence shows that the movement of marriage away from a gendered institution and toward an institution free from state-mandated gender roles reflects an evolution in the understanding of gender rather than a change in marriage. The evidence did not show any historical purpose for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, as states have never required spouses to have an ability or willingness to procreate in order to marry. Rather, the exclusion exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage. That time has passed. The right to marry has been historically and remains the right to choose a spouse and, with mutual consent, join together and form a household. Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage. Today, gender is not relevant to the state in determining spouses’ obligations to each other and to their dependents.

It’s a great, solid and convincing argument. The comparisons to past race and gender inequality really bring home how gay rights are the next natural and inevitable step in the fulfillment of civil rights afforded to US citizens by the Constitution.