Font link of the day: Olympukes, for Seema

Once upon a time in America, you could walk into a church and get married. It wasn’t quite kidnapping a bride, but it was a reasonably unregulated process. Today in America, you need a blood test and a license to get married. Obviously the Pilgrims weren’t doing blood tests, so where did they come in?

I used to think that it was a simple public health measure to prevent the spread of syphilis (and nowadays AIDS) to the innocent spouse, but that’s not it. The truth is we’ve inherited our heavy regulations from the eugenics movement of the early 20th century. (If you had no idea, here’s a site about eugenics and the law in Vermont.) Eugenics supporters lobbied legislatures for pre-marriage health certification to keep the unfit from marrying, and therefore (to some extent) from reproducing.

So when you take that blood test, remember what it’s really for. Are you fit or unfit?

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