People who have been active in Why This Way have a broad range of views on marriage, including both secular and religious perspectives. We generally agree that different people have different ideas of marriage, and, rather than embracing or advocating a particular definition or viewpoint of marriage, we emphasize that our beliefs about consent are important in guiding what sorts of practices about marriage are healthy or unhealthy. We also consider it important that marriage is consensual for the people being married.
Other topics that we have discussed include social pressures with respect to marriage, namely pressures both for and against certain people getting married, and how the government or other social institutions can force a particular definition of marriage on people in ways outside of a healthy state described in our beliefs.
Government & marriage
The consensus in our group is that government-defined marriage is its own structure which may or may not correspond to what people see as true marriage.
The dialogue about marriage can sometimes fail to distinguish between legal marriage and people's personal definitions of marriage, which may or may not coincide with the legal definition in various cases. Although we have a broad range of views on marriage, the consensus in our group is that it is important to distinguish between legal marriage, and people's personal or religious views on marriage.
In the United States, legal marriage can be used as a "back door" to achieve many different goals, from financial aid for college students, to immigration and naturalization, to health care benefits.
Social pressure & marriage
We believe that social pressures exist both for and against the marriage of certain people. If these social pressures are taken too far, they can become coercive and unhealthy, as they can cloud the choices people make to enter or not enter into marriage.
Why This Way has guidelines and practices about weddings, which emphasize minimizing material expenditures to the extent they can create non-consensual social pressures or undermine people's decision of whether or not to marry.