Why Do Younger Americans Support Marriage Rights More Than Older Americans?
Marriage in the traditional context is understood to involve a relationship in which two individuals, male and female, vow to be partners for the rest of their lives. There are various features that characterize marriages which make them go beyond the vows between the two individuals to include concepts understood by entire communities (Ferguson, 2007). Understanding marriage can be from a conservative or liberalist point of view. According to the conservatives, marriage is supposed to be heterosexual, aimed at achieving biological reproduction. The male should be dominant, the protector and the head of the family while the female should be the helper, nurturer and principal caregiver. The liberalist perspective recognizes the importance of gender equity in marriage asserting that the male and female partners can play equal roles regarding household chores. They do not hold the perspective of a dominant and non-dominant partner. Marriage rights are thus essential in bringing clearly the understanding of the ambiguity created through the conservative and liberal beliefs.
The key challenge has been in recognition of homosexual marriages as agreeable in the society. This is due to two key reasons. First, homosexuality is a debatable point across the world, unacceptable in some states and countries. Secondly, marriage supersedes the two individuals involved and the societies in which they exist to include even beliefs and customs considered the norm in larger communities. Because of the different experiences held across generations, it is believed that generations will hold similarly different beliefs on marriage. Four key generations i.e. the silent generation, the baby boomers, generation X and the Millenials exist. The traditional are described as disciplined and conservative with their views, the baby boomers are time stressed, generation Xers are skeptical and individualistic while the millenials are cautious (Tang et al., 2012).
Marriage rights stipulated the involvement of aspects such as taxation and other laws in marriage. Such laws enabled married couples to enjoy certain rights. This was however limited to heterosexual marriages where the male was the husband and the female was the wife. Because of this, there have been issues with marriage rights particularly due to interracial marriages and same sex marriages. Initially, the marriage laws forbade both. However, interracial marriages are now acceptable while same sex marriages are still the subject of debates following the fights by the gay and lesbian societies for the recognition of their rights. The new marriage rights which allow for same sex marriages are supported more by the young than by the older generations due to various reasons. For instance, the younger generations are more educated hence are more accommodative of homosexuals (Zukin et al., 2006; Rimmerman and Clyde, 2007).
Apart from education levels, the younger generation is also more likely to support same sex marriages due to technological advances. Through technology, they get to experience and get more tolerant to same sex marriages. Apart from this, the young generation is born at a time where many social changes are occurring. Because of this, they are more likely to embrace new social phenomena. It is therefore comprehensible for them to embrace same sex marriages than it is for the older individuals. Similarly, the young generation is more accommodative of interracial marriages as well as women equality. The hegemony of the modern times can e linked to such accommodative stances.
Ferguson, Ann. “Gay Marriage: An American and Feminist Dilemma.” Hypatia 22, no. 1 (Winter2007 2007): 39-57.
Rimmerman, Craig A., and Clyde Wilcox, eds. The politics of same-sex marriage. University of Chicago Press, 2007.
Tang, Thomas Li-Ping, et al. “Attitudes and Occupational Commitment among Public Personnel: Differences between Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers.” Public Personnel Management 41, no. 2 (Summer2012 2012): 327-360.
Zukin, Cliff, Scott Keeter, Molly Andolina, Krista Jenkins, and Michael X. Delli Carpini. A new engagement: Political participation, civic life, and the changing American citizen. Oxford University Press, 2006.
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