Dictionaries apparently do have the power to offend.
More than 65,000 people have signed a Change.org petition challenging Dictionary.com to “correct” its definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.
Dictionary.com currently defines marriage as “the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.” and, alternatively, as “a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage.”
The petition asks that the definition instead describe marriage as “the social institution under which a man and woman, woman and woman, or man and man establish their decision to live as spouses by legal commitments, etc.”
Mike Raven, the brother of a lesbian, said he started the petition because his sister was offended by the constitutional amendment that recently banned gay marriage in North Carolina.
“If this whole argument comes down to an intangible definition of marriage, then it’s time for that definition to change,” Raven explained at Change.org. “While we cannot change the oppressive and discriminatory way that some religions continue to define marriage, we can go to an even better place. I believe it is time to correct the definition of Marriage at our sources for what words mean: dictionaries.”
According to The Huffington Post, Raven’s target is not likely to change its definition any time soon.
“We recognize that the word marriage is at the center of nationwide debate,” Dictionary.com told HuffPo in a statement. “As we continually seek the best way to convey how all words are being used in multiple contexts, we appreciate all suggestions regarding the description of the current semantic status of ‘marriage,’ and constantly strive to marry the multifaceted strands in a way that is as comprehensive as possible.”
President Barack Obama announced his personal support for same-sex marriage two weeks ago, but the controversial topic remains a divisive political issue throughout the country.
Dictionary.com attracts about 50 million visitors a month, according to the petition.