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39% of Americans Have Realized That Marriage Is Becoming Obsolete

Posted by libhom Thursday, November 18, 2010

stencil with a heart that says end marriageI've long agreed with the Gay Liberationists and Feminists of the 70s who opposed the institution of marriage. The critiques ranged from the anti sex nature of marriage, to the failure of marriage to nurture relationships, and to the patriarchal nature of the institution, depending on the critics. All of those claims seem valid to me.

People forget that marriage's original purpose had nothing to do with love, nurturing, or affection. Marriage was designed to codify and enforce the status of women and children as property of men. The status of children within marriage is still that of property, though that property is more jointly held between wives and husbands. Trying to turn a patriarchal, property based institution like marriage into an equal partnership between women and men has been weak and unstable at best.

That's why I find recent polling from the Pew Research Center, in association with Time Magazine, quite interesting. Here are the results on the institution of marriage.

Is Marriage Obsolete?

Yes: 39%
No: 58%
Don't Know/Refused: 3%

When the pollsters asked if people were optimistic about "the future of marriage and family," the number jumped from 58% to 67%. The most logical explanation is that there are people who are optimistic about the family who don't necessarily tie that optimism to the institution of marriage, at least in its current form.

When sodomy laws were overturned by the US Supreme Court, the Christian Right decided to make same sex marriage their highest priority LGBT issue. They did this for several reasons. First, it was the one queer issue where the overwhelming majority of the public supported them. Second, same sex marriage inflames fundamentalist Christian donors like no other issue, making it a cash cow.

However, there was another psychodrama going on. For decades, the militant fundamentalists have tried to scapegoat feminists, queers, liberals, atheists, and everyone else they don't like for the decline of marriage. This resonated with members of their flocks who were divorced or miserable in their marriages and wanted someone else to blame. Same sex marriage has become the most frequent "whipping boy" for every misery that people are too afraid to blame on the institution itself.

In another 100-200 years, marriage will be considered a bizarre relic of a backward time. It's too bad there isn't a way for people to jump start that process.

Photo: Franco Folini



  1. TomCat Says:
  2. Lib, I don't think whether marriage is obsolete matters as long as those who are married enjoy benefits not available to those who are forbidden to choose marriage.

  3. Hrag Says:
  4. I will have to completely disagree with you on this one. I used to be anti-marriage but found someone that I wanted to marry, and that all changed. You should be tolerant on those who want to marry. It should be an option available to anyone.

  5. libhom Says:
  6. Hrag; You are confusing perfectly legitmate criticism of a failed and dying institution with intolerance towards those who are involved with it.



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