GOOD

The Year in Marriage

We fiercely defend marriage even as we perpetually redefine it. This year was no exception.


Traditional institutions are rapidly unraveling around the world, but marriage is determined to hang on by an immaculate white thread. We fiercely defend marriage even as we perpetually redefine it. And no matter how ambivalent we claim to be, marriage keeps the media wrapped around its wedding finger. This year was no exception.

For evidence, look no further than April's royal wedding, an event so momentous that it bumped coverage of southern tornadoes and a Syrian uprising for shots of Kate Middleton's wedding dress and sister Pippa's behind. Prince William and Middleton's nuptials saturated the airwaves whether we professed to care or not. Four months later, America got its own celebrity royal wedding: Reality television star Kim Kardashian netted an $18 million payday for tying the knot with basketball player Kris Humphries on a two-day special on E!, only to divorce him 72 days later. Combined, the two weddings roped in millions of viewers and spawned thousands of tweets, articles, and television segments. We were either transfixed by these "storybook weddings" or disgusted by their gaudy consumerism—perhaps a little bit of both. Either way, we were paying attention.


Famous people weren't the only ones getting hitched this year. Regular old marriages and engagements also grabbed headlines for their new spins on the age-old institution. One creative suitor proposed with the help of a flash mob. A would-be groom from the 99 Percent asked, "Will you occupy my life?" Yet another bold romantic proposed via an elaborate street mural. (When are ladies going to start proposing in viral videos?)

It's not enough for us to watch famous people get married—we want to be famous for getting married, too. And when lovebirds combine a thirst for originality with pressure-cooker wedding culture, things can go horribly awry. One pair thought it might be cute to throw a colonial-themed wedding—and it turns out they're not the only ones to ring in their day of joy by acting out the misery of others. An Etsy-fied couple wanted their wedding to nod to the Great Recession, but their "hobo wedding" just ended up channeling offensive caricatures. Some weddings were doomed from the start. No wonder we needed a GOOD flowchart to help us cope during wedding season (pro tip: All signs point to alcohol).

Amid the overblown weddings and one-knee proposals, 2011 still marked major cultural shifts in the way we see marriage—you know, the long-term legal agreement that unfolds after the party. We are increasingly separating marriage from monogamy. We're wedding more and more for the health insurance. New York became the latest and biggest state to legalize gay marriage, a coup for progressives but a bad sign for the gray zone of domestic partnership and, perhaps in the long run, a triumph for a conservative view of the institution. Some of us aren't putting a ring on it at all—cohabitation and happily single ladies are both on the rise, and in China, unhappy bachelors are a dime a dozen.

Even though marriage isn't going anywhere, it's quickly evolving and molding to modern society. Some people are scared shitless about what that means for the future of romantic relations. If you ask us, change isn't such a bad thing. Next year, let's just work on fewer white weddings dominating our news cycle.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Lee J Haywood.

Articles
via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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Culture
via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

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In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

Communities
via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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Politics
via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

Lifestyle

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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The Planet