When the Supreme Court last week proclaimed, in a 5-4 vote, that the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage, it reflected perhaps one of the fastest changes in American public opinion about a social issue. It was only three years ago that the President and a majority of citizens first openly supported the concept. Many factors contributed to this evolution of beliefs, but a significant one is a result of the 83 million Millennials in the population.
Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000 and usually the children of Baby Boomers, now comprise more that one-quarter of the population of the United States and carry with those numbers the power and influence to affect cultural norms throughout the country. They support same-sex marriage by the largest margin of all generational groups and have led in the rising acceptance over the past decade.
Millennials’ views on gay marriage are consistent with their other social opinions, reflecting their own diversity. Even before the Supreme Court decision, three in four agreed that gays and lesbians should be permitted to marry and they rate this as a very important issue. Millennials, to a greater degree than any other cohort, report having family or close friends who are homosexuals, are accepting of the LGBT community, and say that they would not be upset if their own child were gay.
As the celebrations continue here in the U.S., attesting to the ‘power of love,’ surveys indicate that Millennials across the globe also lead their countries in the recognition of same-sex marriage. As we consider other social issues at home and around the world, we can look to the driving force of this generation in moving opinions and influencing lawmakers who are their seniors. At this point, who knows whether they’ll have a significant impact on the 2016 elections but their involvement best not be ignored by the myriad of presidential candidates.