anthropology shmanthropology

While the content of this news, also courtesy of Queer Day, won’t surprise anyone who has even the merest honest familiarity with history and/or anthropology–which leaves out, apparently, the current administration and its speechwriters, and part of its right-wing base–“the Executive Board of the American Anthopological Association, the world’s largest organization of anthropoligists, the people who study culture,” released a statement in response to the president’s “call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage as a threat to civilization,” noting that the White House doesn’t seem to know much about human cultures.

The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.

The Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association strongly opposes a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.

The San Francisco Chronicle added:

The statement was proposed by Dan Segal, a professor of anthropology and history from Pitzer College in Claremont (Los Angeles County), who called Bush’s conception of the history of marriage “patently false.”

“If he were to take even the first semester of anthropology, he would know that’s not true,” said Segal, a member of the anthropological association’s Executive Committee.

Ghita Levine, communications director for the association, said the issue struck a nerve in the profession.

“They feel strongly about it because they are the people who study the culture through time and across the world,” she said. “They are the people who know what cultures consist of.”

Segal pointed to “sanctified same-sex unions in the fourth century in Christianity” and to the Greeks and Romans applying the concept of marriage to same-sex couples, not to mention the Native American berdache tradition in which males married males.

One thought on “anthropology shmanthropology

  1. Interesting. By the way, Rajani forwarded me a recent article about a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry that links social policy and depression among gay men. The lead author of the study says, “Hate-crime laws targeting anti-gay violence, recognition of gay relationships through same-sex marriage or domestic partnership laws, and programs encouraging gay men to ‘come out’ and to integrate into the gay community should be studied as ways to tackle the public health problem we found of high rates of depression among MSM.”

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