Marriage Equality: A Gen-Y Perspective
Yesterday morning, I logged on to Facebook just like every other day. The first update in my newsfeed was from a friend who had changed her profile picture to a pink equal sign with a bright red background. I read the description: "Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution." Universal Declaration of Human Rights- Article 16:1 (1948). Well, I agree with that. I thought, so I liked her photo, closed my browser and went on with my day. At lunch, I checked Facebook again and about one out of four of my friends had changed their profile pictures to some variation of the same image. By the end of the day, it was nearly half.
Of course, my Facebook friends may not be the most representative cross-section of my generation. Many of my closest friends are openly gay. I live in New York City. I went to a fairly liberal (Catholic) university for my undergraduate degree, and for graduate school I attended NYU-recognized for its advancement of gay rights. Still, my peers support for marriage equality comes as no surprise. While 51 percent of all Americans support same-sex marriage, the number of those aged eighteen to twenty-nine who support it is 81 percent. My generation, regardless of religious or political affiliation, does not see gay marriage as a big deal. I am a practicing Catholic, I was raised in a conservative Catholic family, and I went to Catholic school until I graduated from college. Like many of my peers, I appreciate the church's teaching on marriage, but respectfully hold a different viewpoint. Over the course of my high school and college career, I, like many others my age, watched friend after friend-many of them also practicing Catholics-struggle with their homosexuality, their decision to come out, and the response from friends and family after they made that decision. More often than not, nothing changed, except their comfort level and happiness. For the most part, their peers accepted their admission without hesitation. It usually took their parents longest to come around to the idea, but they ultimately accepted it too.
Because it has become so much more socially acceptable for men and women of my generation to publically declare their sexual orientation and openly date members of the same sex, because we have become so accustomed to seeing and supporting it, members of my generation find it difficult to draw the line at dating. If my friend can date who she wants, why shouldn't she marry who she wants? And moreover, if I can marry who I want, why shouldn't my best friend be able to do the same thing? It may be a long road to true marriage equality, but, as the Supreme Court hears cases for and against Proposition 8 and DOMA, I have no doubt it will happen eventually. The time will come when all those people who changed their profile pictures to equal signs are in a position of much more authority and influence. Of course there are many people of all ages who disagree with me, but it seems clear that the shift in thinking is well underway.
About the Author
KeriLee Horan is in charge of digital media and marketing at Commonweal.