[ In the article below, anthropologists “called Bush’s conception of the history of marriage ‘patently false.'” This fits in nicely with the pattern of disregard for and abuse of science on the part of the Bush Administration, as substantiated by the Waxman Report last August, and the report of the Union of Concerned Scientists last month. –doclalor ]
Friday, February 27, 2004
San Francisco Chronicle
The primary organization representing American anthropologists criticized President Bush’s proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage Thursday and gave a failing grade to the president’s understanding of 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,” said the executive board of the 11,000-member American Anthropological Association.
Bush has cast the union between male and female as the only proper form of marriage, or what he called in his State of the Union address “one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization.”
American anthropologists say he’s wrong.
“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 association’s statement said, adding that the executive board “strongly opposes a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.”
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.
UC Berkeley anthropologist Laura Nader, an expert in anthropology and the law who played no role in drawing up the association’s statement, called it a “correct assessment.”
Nader, who is an association member, said Bush’s proposal “serves the views of the religious right, and that has to do with getting votes.”