What is meant by same-sex unions? Throughout the early middle ages there were Brotherhood ceremonies, but should that be defined the way we would define same sex-unions today? While homosexuality has been going on since the dawn of civilization, I don't believe that it was publically recognized or even publically announced within the middle ages. .
Homosexuality has been viewed as taboo by many cultures over time. The Hebrew have a law forbidding it, as do the Muslims, and being that Christianity was born out of Judaism, it is also taboo amongst them as well. Historian John Boswell's interpretations of same-sex unions I believe are misinterpreted. Boswell states that there are precedents for homosexual marriage, in particular in the Eastern Orthodoxy, during the late Byzantine period. His main argument is that the Byzantines regarded "adelphopoiesis," a same-sex union, as a form of marriage contract between two males and blessed by the church. It is certainly true were rites of this sort in the Byzantine manuscripts dating from the ninth to the fifteenth century. In a typical ceremony of this sort, two males would appear before a priest within a church. There were symbols that were common to Byzantine heterosexual marriage rites including holding candles, joining hands, and receiving Communion. Prayers used for this blessing referred to God establishing "spiritual brothers" and contained references to sainted pairs. .
During the early middle ages, marital unions were established through a process that had many stages. These stages included engagement, marriage contract, betrothal, and crowning. The difference between a marriage and a same-sex union are many. Marriage went through a process, not a single rite. This was most likely due to families of both the husband and wife being involved rather than just the individuals themselves. Each stage of the marital process involved the families of each spouse and must have had their approval each time.