Justice Anthony Kennedy reflected this high American regard for marriage when he wrote for the majority of the Court in Obergefell, “Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations.” Although many on the cultural and political left applauded the Court’s decision, Kennedy’s language was quite traditionalist. In fact, plenty of Americans view marriage as, at best, one of many lifestyle choices and, at worst, a deeply flawed heterosexual institution that should be transcended. Some go as far as to argue that families headed by married couples should be replaced by networks of friends and past and present romantic partners.
The alternative visions are far from replacing marriage. It is an open question, however, how much longer marriage will continue to dominate American family life. According to the General Social Survey, a national survey of Americans conducted every other year, the percentage of Americans who agreed with the statement, “It is alright for a couple to live together without intending to get married,” increased from 41 percent in 1994 to 57 percent in 2012, the last time the question was asked. Moreover, the material foundations of marriage have weakened. America is well past the heyday of the farm family in which a husband and wife united in labor and raised children to help work the land. Marriage seems to operate best today for parents who pool two incomes and invest heavily in their children’s development. Yet these investments could be made by parents in long-term cohabiting relationships. The dominance of marriage may simply be due to what the sociologist William Ogburn called “cultural lag”: the tendency of attitudes and values to change more slowly than the material conditions that underlie them.
There may soon be a slowdown in the proportion of same-sex couples who choose to marry. Sometime soon, the backlog of same-sex couples wishing to marry will be depleted. At that point, marriage rates among same-sex couples will depend largely on what younger people in recently-formed relationships do. Many of them may do the same things that younger different-sex couples are doing: live together in cohabiting relationships, postpone marriage, and ultimately choose marriage less frequently than their parents’ generation did. If that happens, the rate of same-sex marriage will slow. But it will surely persist—more, to be sure, as a common last step into adulthood than as a first.
Source : https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/03/incredible-everlasting-institution-marriage/555320/430