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Conference Proceeding

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I want to talk a little bit about Loving v. Virginia, a little bit about some other issues, but mostly, I want to talk about marriage. I stand before you as a married man. I have been married for sixteen years and change. Marriage is a sacred institution for me as a Christian and a vitally important institution for the construction of society.

Every society we know of either has had marriage in some form or has left us ambiguous evidence. There are some ancient societies about which we are not sure. But what anthropologists tell us today is that there is no society of which it can confidently be said, "These folks did not, in fact, get married." Marriage seems to be natural to the human species.

Now, of course, in today's terms, when we think about marriage, we think not just about Loving v. Virginia, about which I'll say more in a bit, but also about the question of same-sex marriage, about which I'll say more in a bit as well. One of the great virtues of a conference like this one is precisely, I think, the desire to celebrate marriage itself and take from that celebration lessons for other issues that may divide us. The issue of same-sex marriage is, of course, a tremendously divisive one in the nation and among scholars. Probably today's conference would have been more fruitful if there had been more people here who have a firm position in favor of it, as a way of generating some interesting conversation. But then I hear that last night you had some of that conversation anyway.

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