Arguably the most influential definition of “traditional” marriage came from William Blackstone, a well-thumbed copy of whose “Commentaries on the Laws of England” could be found on the desk of every Colonial or Early American lawmaker, judge and attorney:
By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law; that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband, under whose wing, protection and cover, she performs everything.
The two became one–that one being the husband–while the bride underwent “civil death” to become his legally invisible appendage. Virtually every asset of hers–personal possessions, every penny of wages earned, the very clothing on her back, and even her children–was placed under the absolute control of her husband, though inherited real estate was restricted in that husbands could use it for their own benefit, but not arbitrarily dispose of it without her free consent, as it was meant to provide for her during widowhood then be passed on to her children. Like a child, she could not sign a contract, make a will, buy or sell a business, or sue in court (except for divorce–where legal–or for failure of her husband to adequately support her.)
Hmmm...and the "anti-gay marriage" crowd wants to go back to this? How delightful.