Oxford English Dictionary May Also Accept Same-Sex Union in Definition of Marriage

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By Vittorio Hernandez | July 30, 2013 1:59 PM EST

More international support for same-sex unions and gay rights continue to pour in. Beginning with U.S. President Barack Obama and last week Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa who said he would not worship a homophobic God, the latest to hint it may recognise gay marriages is the Oxford English Dictionary.

The director of the U.S. Publicity for the Oxford English Dictionary said in a statement, "Many of our dictionaries including the Oxford English Dictionary, as well as oxforddictionaries.com, already include references to same-sex marriage as part of their definitions. Dictionaries reflect changes in the use of language, rather than changes in law, and we are constantly monitoring usage in this area in order to consider what revisions and updates we may need to make. The English language is always developing and, along with many other words, we will continue to monitor the way in which 'marriage' is used."

The statement stressed the dictionary has not yet included same-sex unions in its definition of marriage, but hinted it may revise the definition in the future if there is a general feeling among editors that usage of the word marriage has shifted sufficiently to include unions between two males or two females.

Currently, the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of marriage is: "The condition of being a husband or wife; the relations between persons married to each other; matrimony."

French and Canadian dictionaries had gone a step ahead of the English dictionary and have expanded their definition of the term marriage.

The French Larousse dictionary's definition is "a solemn act between two same-sex or different-sex persons, who decide to establish a union.' That amended definition was made by the dictionary editors even before gay marriages were legalised by France in April 2013.

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