Generational shift a key factor for upward trend in support

Yesterday, Freedom to Marry, in cooperation with Benenson Strategy Group and Voter Consumer Research, released new analysis that support for the Freedom to Marry has increased over the past fifteen years, with an especially significant increase over the last two years.  The study discovered that support for the freedom to marry rose about one percent per year over a 13-year period between 1996 and 2009, but rose five percent in both 2010 and 2011.  

The results of the study stressed that in order for such large statistical changes to have been made, voters across the political spectrum have to be changing their minds in favor of the freedom to marry.  The study found that since 2006, senior citizens have increased their support 15% and republicans have increased their support 8%. 

However, while it is clear that gains have been made with people who hold all types of political beliefs, undeniably, the largest demographic of support for the freedom to marry is still young people.  The changing attitude of younger generations accounts for the upward trend in support for the end of marriage discrimination.  The recent study found that almost 70% of voters under the age of 40 support the freedom to marry.  

The New York Times explored this trend last week when they sent reporters to all five boroughs of New York City to interview young people on the issue of marriage.  They interviewed 18 young New Yorkers from Brooklyn to the Bronx on their attitudes on the issue. The interviewed New Yorkers are between the age of 18 and 22, and mostly identify as straight.  

All of the interviewees except four are in support of the freedom to marry.  As Nadia Yakimchenko, from the Bronx states, “I don’t really know what the deal is with people not accepting it…you love who you love. Marriage…is an another aspect of saying we’re a family.”  More interesting than their support is the multifarious reasons they cite: everything from financial benefits to recognition of a couple’s love and commitment.  Several discuss how their attitudes on the subject vary from their parent’s attitudes or those of older generations.  On this issue, Tara Mercado, from the Bronx, said, “I think my generation is much more accepting of it…because it’s been around for a while.”  

The interviews showcase a general level of acceptance, even among a few of those who are against the freedom to marry.  Queens-based marriage-supporter, Ralphie Martinez, demonstrates this attitude by saying, “If somebody wants to love somebody and have documentation that they love that person, then by all means, I’m with it.”  While the article only covers a small subset of individuals, it’s also indicative of shifting tides of opinion in favor of the freedom to marry.  

You can find the article about the new study here.

You can find all of the interviews here.