A common refrain among those arguing against allowing same-sex marriage is that doing so would alter a long-standing trans-cultural definition of marriage. Rick Warren, the controversial evangelist Obama has invited to speak at his inauguration tells Ann Curry in an NBC interview that, "For five thousand years, every single culture and every single religion has defined marriage as a man and a woman."
The prerequisite for this sort of absolute declaration is absolute ignorance of what one is talking about. In fact, the world is teeming with innumerable examples of marriage that would be unrecognizable to Warren and other so-called traditionalists.
Two spirited ones (formerly known as berdache) were commonly found in many Amerindian cultures. They were either biological males who felt the presence of a female soul so strongly that they chose to live their lives as women or vice-versa, females who chose to live as men. Pedro de Magalhães de Gandovo described such women -- whom he called Amazons -- in 1576: "The wear their hair cut in the same way as the men, and go to war with bows and arrows and pursue game, always in company with men; each has a woman to serve her, to whom she says she is married, and they treat each other and speak with each other as man and wife."
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