To define coverture is to go back in time when a woman gave up any rights of independence to her husband, for she was under the protection, power and influence of him. It was her place in marriage to be the homemaker and the child caregiver and his place to earn the income. Labor was divided between the sexes because it was the natural thing to do. Women had their place in society and within the marriage.
The traditional views of marriage tell women that it is their duty to play their role in this marital relationship. Men and women are not equally qualified to perform the roles of the other. Vows were taken at the altar to love, honor and obey their husband.
This medieval concept of marriage lingered for hundreds of years where women were more property than partner until the equality of women began to emerge. Women finally obtained the right to vote, then moved into those traditional fields that only men had occupied. Their struggle for equality continues to be an ongoing effort.
Today we see a new woman, much different from our mothers and grandmothers even, one that is capable of doing much more than she could 100 years ago. Marriage laws also changed giving her greater responsibilities in the marriage contract. She is less likely to be automatically given child caregiver custody in divorce. There is greater equality in who pays whom alimony.
The Right wants to define marriage in an antiquated fashion much like the coverture of old. Arguments to keep this definition have brought up procreation, yet have ignored the fact there has never been a requirement to be fertile to have a legal marriage. Testimony in the Prop 8 trial in California pointed out that 38% of all children born in the United States are from unwed parents. So how is procreation necessary for marriage or marriage necessary for procreation? How is same-sex marriage different from an infertile one?
The Right wants the American people to believe that a child needs both a mother and a father. This only reinforces the notion that traditional marriage is necessary to rear children because the mother and the father have roles that must be held. In other words, the mother's place is in the home caring for the children. That is her role.
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