And Newt Gingrich's definition. And Karl Rove's definition. And Rush Limbaugh's definition.

Reacting to a new "study" from discredited and disgraced sociologist Mark Regnerus, Brian Brown slammed Ronald, Newt, Karl, and Rush. Regnerus's latest hatestudy found that the attitudes of Christian gay people toward premarital sex, extramarital sex, porn, poly triads, and abortion more closely align with the attitudes of of non-Christian gays than they do with non-gay Christians. Brown's reaction:

Activists trying to force a redefinition of marriage on America have constantly evaded the question, "what is marriage?" Meanwhile, they have insisted that gays and lesbians simply want access to the same sacred institution of marriage and that they don't intend to change anything about that institution. But the survey responses from gay men and lesbians themselves don't support these claims. The institution envisioned by those who want to redefine marriage isn't faithful... it isn't exclusive... it isn't permanent... put bluntly, it isn't marriage.

First: the definition of marriage has changed and evolved over the centuries millennia. Here's an article about it, Brian. And here's a book. Read up.

Second: Ronald Reagan (divorced once, married twice), Newt Gingrich (divorced twice, married three times), Karl Rove (divorced twice, married three times), Rush Limbaugh (divorced three times, married four times)—all four had marriages that were some combo of not faithful, not exclusive, and not permanent. Brown is essentially arguing that whatever Ronald and Nancy had together, it wasn't a marriage. The rightful First Lady of the United States between 1981 and 1989 was, according to Brown, Jane Wyman.

Third: Allow me to answer—once again—the question that Brown claims no pro-marriage-equality activist has ever answered. What is marriage?

Marriage is the legal union of two autonomous and equal individuals who are 1. both adults, 2. capable of giving their consent, and 3. not too closely related. The End. Beyond that any particular marriage is whatever the two people in that marriage say that it is. A married couple can choose to be monogamous or they can choose to fuck around; they can choose to have children or they can choose to remain childless; they can choose to have a religious ceremony or they can choose to have a civil ceremony; they can regard their marriage as permanent or they can divorce and remarry and run for president. This has been the definition of marriage for decades and it was the definition of marriage in force when same-sex couples began to press for the right to marry. If this definition of marriage represents a "radical" redefinition of this "sacred institution," then Brian Brown's beef is with straight people, not gay people. Because straight people created this definition—the current definition—of marriage. (And for this straight people deserve a lot of credit: the old definition of marriage, the definition this new one replaced, was sexist and patriarchal and oppressive.)

It was only after same-sex couples demanded the right to marry that we suddenly started hearing that a non-monogamous marriage wasn't really a marriage. Or that a childless marriage wasn't really a marriage. Or that marriage was religious and permanent. (Never mind all those civil ceremonies, never mind all those divorces.) Those weren't standards that straight people were holding themselves to—and they still aren't. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) insists that gay people shouldn't be allowed to marry because many gay male couples aren't as likely to be monogamous. Setting aside the fact that lesbian couples are more likely to be monogamous than gay male or opposite-sex couples (perhaps only lesbians should be allowed to marry?), NOM has never called for heterosexual swingers to be barred from marrying or forcibly divorced. And while Brown swans around insisting that marriage is "permanent," NOM has never demanded that divorce be banned or called for second, third, or fourth marriages to be annulled.

P.S. Brian? Far from evading the "What is marriage?" question, queer writers and activists have written whole books addressing the question. One of my favorites: E.J. Graff's What Is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution. "What is marriage" is right there in the title. Pick up a copy.