The LGBTQ rights group "Planting peace" (plantingpeace.org) has erected a billboard Kim Davis' Kentucky town, with the headline: " Dear Kim Davis, the fact that you can't sell your daughter for three goats and a cow, means we've already redefined marriage."
Now, don't confuse "sell your daughter" with a dowry, that's a tradition where the bride brings goods to the groom, this sounds like they're talking about a bride price or dower, still a common custom in Thailand, mainland China, parts of Africa and in some Pacific Island societies, notably those in Melanesia. Islamic law commands a groom to give the bride a gift called a Mahr, which is not for the brides family but a gift for the bride. There's also mention of bride price in the Hebrew Bible, specifically if a man seduces or rapes an unmarried woman - as well as a passage in Genesis that talks about gifts for the bride and her mother. There are exactly zero mentions of three goats and a cow in any version of the Bible. In Jewish tradition there's a marriage contract called a Ketubah, this contract is so important that the marriage ceremony is not complete until it is signed by the groom and presented to the bride.
Now, in Europe, the custom of a dower can be traced back to Roman times (and they weren't fond of Christians, you might recall), it also spread to Germany etc, where prior to the middle ages a dower was handed to the wife's family for arranging the marriage but since then it has been given directly to the wife as a gift for her economic security. There's still remnants of the tradition in various forms today, where for example in Sweden a bride will receive a "morning gift" (morgongåva - which is also a town in Sweden) in the form of jewellery, a remnant of the Morganatic marriage custom. In some parts of the country women still have a bridal chest (brudkista), which they fill with things needed for a new home, sheets, cutlery etc - that they themselves make and monogram. I have such a chest, which my grandfather built for me, filled with stuff that looks a bit like this that I have made. I'm not a christian, for the record.
The press release from Planting Peace addresses my confusion with the headline:
As has been painstakingly observed time and time again, the anti-LGBTQ movement is comprised of a substantial number of zealots who unfailingly refer to their rigid interpretation of religious text to narrowly define “traditional” institutions and values. They pick and choose what they wish to convey as immoral and unacceptable, while seemingly sweeping lines of scripture just a few letters away completely under the rug.
Alas, as I've already demonstrated above, a dowry or dower is not a Christian tradition and no cow-goat combos are mentioned in the Bible, but it is a far older and more widespread practice that is still practiced in cultures today. So while I get what was attempted with this ad, the nerd in me recoils at the poor research done, and ponders if it might insult people who still practice the tradition. Also, I feel that the headline is way too long for a billboard, but that's another rant.
Over at Huffington Post they write "The message is plain and simple -- if Davis is going to use Biblical rhetoric to justify her opposition to same-sex marriage, she might want to take a closer look at how else marriage has been redefined in relation to the book's sacred teachings." but then he fails to define how else marriage has been redefined. So I'll give an example, Jesus said 'Let no man divide what God has put together', which means divorce is out of the question too. Do county clerks issue divorce papers?