Originally published on Advocate.com May 25 2012 8:33 AM ET
More than 80,000 people have signed on to a petition urging Dictionary.com to expand its definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.
The petition's organizer, Mike Raven, writes:
Specifically, with roughly 50 million visitors per month, we want Dictionary.com to correct the definition of marriage. Dictionary.com says that it’s a “social institution under which man and woman establish their decision to live together as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.” They then brush same-sex marriage off as “a similar institution involving partners of the same sex.” Because why should same-sex marriage get the detail and care that “traditional” marriage gets? They got a blurb right? Isn't that enough? No. With [its] separate but "equal" styled wording and placement, it is time they hear our voices and correct their definition.
Some major dictionaries already reflect the reality that marriage is not limited to heterosexual couples in many places around the world. Steve Kleinedler, managing editor of the American Heritage Dictionary, described the shift in a 2009 op-ed:
"Many sociological terms have undergone shifts in the past 150 years as society changes. The words family (no longer limited to stereotypical nuclear units) and gay (with the traditional 'merry' sense becoming secondary) provide prime examples. Marriage, because of its legally institutionalized status, presents a significantly important development. Seven countries and five U.S. states have codified marriage equality, regardless of sexual orientation. This altered reality of the institution led us to revise the definition of the word as follows: 'The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife, and in some jurisdictions, between two persons of the same sex, usually entailing legal obligations of each person to the other.' This definition is straightforward and indisputable. Even the most ardent marriage equality foe cannot dispute the fact that in some jurisdictions two people of the same sex can get married to each other. And so there it is, in the first sense of marriage, which appears in our online and print reference works from spring 2009 onward."