Monday, August 27, 2007

Will You Be My Brother?

You've heard the arguments from conservatives -- "Save traditional marriage," they scream. "Its all about the children!"

Or is it? Historians have been unearthing evidence that same sex relationships have been accepted by both the Church and State in western societies in times past. “Western family structures have been much more varied than many people today seem to realize and Western legal systems have in the past made provisions for a variety of household structures,” writes Allan Tulchin, a professor at Shippensburg University.

He has uncovered legal contracts called an "affrèrement," roughly translated as brotherment. The contracts functioned like a marriage contract, sworn before a notary and witnesses and joined the property of the "brothers." While the contracts may have been used between members of the same family in some cases, his research suggests that romantic relationships also were accepted.

While Tulchin's work seems to focus on the state's acceptance of these contracts, the late John Boswell's book, Same Sex Unions in Medieval Europe, suggests that the medieval Catholic Church also recognized these "brotherment" relationships. While critics counter with the equivalent of, "they're not gay, they're just really good friends," the bigger point is that the idea that western society has always been defined by one man, one woman, a litter of kids and a dog is pure fiction. Tulchin sums it up by explaining, "I suspect that some of these relationships were sexual, while others may not have been. It is impossible to prove either way and probably also somewhat irrelevant to understanding their way of thinking. They loved each other, and the community accepted that."

Nature abounds with any number of different groupings. From hives, packs and schools to animals that couple with a partner for life. There are animals that change sexes as well as gay animals. Its time that we recognize that humans are no different.

And for the record, I'd like a big, hunky "brother" who looks hot in tight leather shorts and knows how to use his "sword," kinda like the one pictured above. (Thanks to The Daily Slab [NSFW!] for the pic!)

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