The Language of Gay Rights

Written by scott on March 27th, 2013

Marriage EqualityWords have power, and that meaning can impact the way we think about something. Take gay rights and marriage equality, for instance. Time Magazine looks at seven phrases that help shape the debate:

Marriage, as John P. Marquand might have said, is a damnably serious business–particularly among gay rights activists and same-sex marriage opponents. Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments about the legal definition of “marriage,” one of many words and phrases that embody America’s long cultural grapple over homosexuality. In this week’s Wednesday Words, NewsFeed takes a look at that lexical quagmire and six others:

Marriage: For years, lexicographers have pored over the term at the center of Supreme Court proceedings today, trying to tweak dictionary entries to reflect how all people use the word, regardless of their political persuasions. “Lexicographers end up in a no-win situation, where no matter what they do, somebody’s going to have trouble with the definition,” says Ben Zimmer, linguist and executive producer at

The others? “Traditional marriage”, “opposite-sex marriage”, “marriage equality”, “husband and wife”, “widow and widower”, and “queer”. Hit the link above for the whole article.


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