Oxford Dictionary says marriage definition will change to include gay people

World's most renowned dictionary of the English language has said they are looking into how same-sex couples marrying in England and Wales will affect the word

Oxford Dictionary says marriage definition will change to include gay people
24 July 2013

The world’s most renowned dictionary of the English language has said the definition of ‘marriage’ will change to include gay people.  

The home of the Oxford English Dictionary, England, has recently passed a law allowing same-sex couples to get married.

While the definition and the law did not change simultaneously, the brains behind the words say they will monitor how the word marriage changes over the next year.

Speaking to Gay Star News, an Oxford University Press spokeswoman said: ‘We continually monitor the words in our dictionaries, paying particular to those words whose usage is shifting, so yes, this will happen with marriage.’

As it currently stands, OxfordDictionaries.com defines marriage as being a ‘formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife.’

In a reference, it says marriage could also be ‘(in some jurisdictions) a union between partners of the same sex’.

Gay rights activists have long said this secondary reference is discriminatory, saying if it is law in any country it should be on the same ‘ranking’ as a heterosexual union.

‘We are constantly monitoring usage in this area in order to consider what revisions and updates we may need to make,’ the Oxford University Press spokeswoman added.

‘It’s worth pointing out that, as the OED is distinct from other dictionaries in being a historical record of the language, meanings of the past will remain, even while language changes and new ones are added.’

The definition of ‘marriage’ changed in the leading French dictionary before the law changed in France.

Instead of defining marriage as between a man and a woman, the Larousse changed it to a ‘solemn act between two same-sex or different-sex persons, who decide to establish a union’.

Other countries with marriage equality, such as Canada, define marriage by avoiding gender. The Canada Space Dictionary describes it as ‘the state of being a married couple voluntarily joined for life (or until divorce)’.

Queen Elizabeth II passed same-sex marriage in England and Wales into law on 17 July. The first gay weddings are expected to take place in summer 2014.



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