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The U.S. Census may not count gay marriages in its 2010 survey of United States citizens, but Merriam-Webster has been quietly supporting the same-sex definition of marriage since 2003. Pink News reports:

In response to a reader’s query on the political motivations for the change, associate editor Kory Stamper said: “We often hear from people who believe that we are promoting – or perhaps failing to promote – a particular social or political agenda when we make choices about what words to include in the dictionary and how those words should be defined.

The dictionary definition reads:


Main Entry: mar·riage Pronunciation: \ˈmer-ij, ˈma-rij\ Function: noun Etymology: Middle English mariage, from Anglo-French, from marier to marry Date: 14th century

1 a (1): the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2): the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage b: the mutual relation of married persons : wedlock c: the institution whereby individuals are joined in a marriage

2: an act of marrying or the rite by which the married status is effected ; especially : the wedding ceremony and attendant festivities or formalities

3: an intimate or close union

An “intimate or close union”? Looks like Webster’s has expanded the definition to include us unmarrieds, too. Sweet!

Photo byBethany L. King.