Civil unions, ‘social experimenting’? Um, No.

An on-going historical survey and study is finding that “civil unions” or legally recognized relationships outside of the one man-one woman paradigm have existed before in Western law and civilization.

The study may very well prove false the assertions of anti-gay activists, who say that civil unions and marriage equality across all sexual orientations is “social experimenting” or “engineering;” something never before attempted or codified in Western law.

According to ScienceDaily, Allan A. Tulchin of Shippensburg University has found legally recognized relationship and arrangements that existed six centuries ago in medieval France:

Opponents of gay marriage in the United States today have tended to assume that nuclear families have always been the standard household form. However, as Tulchin writes, “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.”

For example, in late medieval France, the term affrèrement — roughly translated as brotherment — was used to refer to a certain type of legal contract, which also existed elsewhere in Mediterranean Europe. These documents provided the foundation for non-nuclear households of many types and shared many characteristics with marriage contracts, as legal writers at the time were well aware, according to Tulchin.

The new “brothers” pledged to live together sharing ‘un pain, un vin, et une bourse’ — one bread, one wine, and one purse. As Tulchin notes, “The model for these household arrangements is that of two or more brothers who have inherited the family home on an equal basis from their parents and who will continue to live together, just as they did when they were children.” But at the same time, “the affrèrement was not only for brothers,” since many other people, including relatives and non-relatives, used it.

The article at ScienceDaily then goes on to state:

Tulchin argues that in cases where the affrèrés were single unrelated men, these contracts provide “considerable evidence that the affrèrés were using affrèrements to formalize same-sex loving relationships. . . . 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. What followed did not produce any documents.”

He concludes: “The very existence of affrèrements shows that there was a radical shift in attitudes between the sixteenth century and the rise of modern antihomosexual legislation in the twentieth.”

Very interesting stuff. I’d like to perhaps see a rebuttal from the “other” side on it one day. If, in fact, this historical survey is historically and accurately sound it would completely blow away the “social experimenting” argument.

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