Same-sex marriages existed as early as Roman times. Yale historian John Boswell found that they were sanctified by the early Christian church, though they were banned during the Middle Ages.
However, we're not in the Dark Ages anymore. The expansion of civil rights for same-sex families is sweeping the globe.
Eleven countries allow same-sex couples to marry, and many other nations, including Israel, Aruba, Mexico, and Uruguay, recognize these marriages even if they don't allow them to be performed.
People are realizing that expanding civil marriage to same-sex families, often including our family members, coworkers, and friends, does not diminish anyone else's marriage. The sky has not fallen.
When we got married in Massachusetts in 2008, we had the support of our entire extended family: Republicans, Democrats, and independents; Christians, Jews, and agnostics; young and old.
My then-98-year-old great-aunt, a Republican, took my partner aside before our marriage. She told him that she had thought about it for a long time, weighed her deeply held religious views, and welcomed him to our family. She later put his name as my spouse in the family Bible. My relatives from South Carolina, religious and Republican, enthusiastically entered my partner's name, as my spouse, in our family tree.
While we've been legally married for only a few years, my partner and I have been a family for more than 25 years. We've bought homes, adopted a dog, worked, volunteered, vacationed, and voted. Our marriage isn't very different from that of my sister and her husband.
Does my marriage contribute to the unraveling of American wedlock? Hardly. We have friends and family long married, and others who are divorced. We've never heard anyone say they split because same-sex couples can marry.
During the Proposition 8 trial in California, experts testified that there is no evidence to suggest that marriage between two men or two women damages other marriages. Or that the children of a gay or lesbian couple suffer any harm. The court said it was "implausible to think that denying two men or two women the right to call themselves married could somehow bolster the stability of families headed by one man and one woman."
Civil rights have not always been championed by the majority. In 1967, when the Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting interracial marriage were unconstitutional, less than 20 percent of Americans approved, according to Gallup.
Today, a growing majority of people support legalizing same-sex marriage, a fact that Romney and his party should pay attention to if they want to win at the ballot box.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once observed, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." As a matter of equality, but also as a matter of self-interest, Republicans should catch up, lest the party lose an entire generation of fair-minded voters.
The GOP should stand for marriage, but for all marriages between two consenting adults. It should stand for all families. That would allow Republicans to reclaim their heritage, to be touched, as put by our greatest Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, by the better angels of their nature.
Republicans should return to their roots as the party of civil rights. That is the Republican Party that won the support of my great-aunt, who, after our marriage, gave my spouse a central role at her 100th birthday celebration.
E-mail Duane Perry at email@example.com.