A possible explanation for the shift in public opinion could be peoples’ changing view of marriage itself. According to the Pew Research Center, fewer Americans are walking down the aisle, with 4.2 million Americans newly married in 2011 compared to 4.5 million in 2008. Little more than half of adults were married in 2011 compared with 72% of adults in 1960.
Marriage isn’t the shiny, esteemed union it once was.
A former boss once used the word “married” to describe two separate brochures that needed to be joined together. Designers on HGTV have thrown the word around when meshing cabinetry with countertops. A renowned Brooklyn wedding photographer labeled a shoot she did simply as “Commitment.” A friend, now in his early-to-mid thirties, said he has delayed marrying because the practice has become more of a “merger” than a relationship between husband and wife. A former co-worker once described his wife’s view of their marriage as a mere “business partnership.” Other friends have delayed marrying because they can’t immediately finance a lavish wedding celebration.
If the meaning being assigned to marriage is vague, floating, nebulous nouns like "commitment," "merger," and "contract" – a mere “ball and chain” – then certainly no one would object if a man “married” a man and a woman a woman. The great presumption there, however, is the idea that marriage can be shaped any way the wind blows rather than exist as something fixed, transcending semantic shifts.
On grounds of personal liberty, many conservative libertarians would not take issue with a gay couples’ right to their partner’s bedside, the right to an inheritance, and even the right to enter into a legally binding contract with each other.
The issue, rather, is in misascribing marriage to mean anything other than a union between a husband and a wife.
Theologian Martin Luther said this of his own experience with marriage: “There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.”
If only more people felt as he did.