Just a week ago the National Organization for Marriage concluded its Summer for Marriage Tour with a rally in Washington, DC. It was the 23rd city the tour hit in little more than one month. With the recent news of Prop 8 in California, the timing of this marriage tour could not have been any better. The rallies echoed the victories marriage has received in 31 states, demonstrating that the American people believe in marriage and will defend their commitment in the voting booths and in the public square.
But is all this excitement only temporary? Sure, marriage has won every time it has been put to the American people, but many still say the marriage debate is lost among the next generation and predict that SSM will be legalized within a decade or two.
According to a recent national survey by Public Policy Polling, preserving marriage as a union between one man and one woman may indeed be here for the long haul. The survey finds that 57% of Americans think SSM should be illegal, while only 33% think it should be legal (and the remaining 11% have no opinion). In other words, Americans support marriage by a ratio of almost 2-1! What is more, this support is seen in almost every demographic group, and in every age group including those aged under thirty. According to the survey, voters under thirty opposed SSM 52/44.
Even in the dark blue state of California, we still find that 45% of those 18-29 voted “yes” on Prop 8. While this may not be the majority, it is still a significant portion at close to half the population.
The fact is, SSM proponents do not have a monopoly on the sentiments of the next generation of leaders. Just look at the popularity of organizations like ours and the Ruth Institute, and especially the growth our own Network has experienced since last fall. In less than a year, our Network has more than quadrupled, now reaching over two dozen colleges and universities nationwide. And these aren’t the small Christian colleges one would expect. In fact, religious institutions form the minority. Many of our most active members are at secular, elite universities – among them Columbia, Georgetown, Harvard, Princeton, UVA, and Yale. These young men and women are educated, intelligent leaders who are convinced – by reasons and arguments – of the importance of the institution of marriage. In fact, they are so convinced of the importance of marriage, family, and sexual integrity that they are willing to jeopardize their reputations and sacrifice their time to advocate these issues in what is often a hostile campus environment.
To be sure, the marriage debate is not lost among the next generation – far from it. If anything, the recent debate on marriage is spurring young men and women to take these issues more seriously, to learn the arguments, and ultimately to decide that marriage does matter.