According to Webster's Third New International Dictionary, a family is "the basic unit in society having as its nucleus two or more adults living together and cooperating in the care and rearing of their own or adopted children. " Despite this definition, which appears to be all inclusive, lesbian and/or gay couples, with or without children, do not fit the image most people conjure when thinking of a family. Despite the evident disparity between this definition and the socially accepted norm, gay and lesbian couples still consider themselves families. For the past 30 years especially, same sex couples have sought societal recognition of their "families." .
One of the largest misconceptions concerning same-sex marriages is that it is a relatively new idea, or a least one that has not been contested until the modern age. The truth of the matter is that this issue has emerged in many cultures and many eras, with many identical arguments. In most cases, the outcome of the argument has been the same as it is today, with no legal institution of marriage for same-sex couples. This has not always been the case, however. In seventeenth-century China and nineteenth-century Africa, for example, the institution appears to be almost identical to opposite-sex marriages. There is also evidence of same sex marriages in Native American cultures, but any similarity to modern practices is far from evident. .
One of the earliest explanations of homosexuality and homosexual union can be found in a section of Plato's Symposium. In this section Plato write for his friend Aristophanes, following Aristophanes myth about the origin of human beings. Aristophanes conjectures that in the beginning there were three sexes, one which was essentially two male forms intertwined, on of two female and one androgynous form which contained a male and a female. These forms were eventually split in half by Zeus, but the lifelong search for ones missing half explains both homosexual and heterosexual love.