Valentine's Day report: seven ways marriage is changing

It seems Valentine's Day, when 10 percent of all marriage proposals take place, is one of the few constants in the institution of marriage. Here are seven ways marriage has changed from 50 years ago, when marriage was between a man and a woman barely into their twenties, of the same race and social class, till death did them part.

6. Advent of gay marriage

Darryl Bush/AP/File
John Lewis (l.) puts a wedding ring on the hand of Stuart Gaffney as they exchange marriage vows at City Hall in San Francisco on June 17, 2008.

What are civil unions and why does the public support them more than it does gay marriage?

Civil unions are the legally recognized union of same-sex partners. Because the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 prohibits same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples, same-sex couples get only state rights, not federal. They are recognized only in states that have civil union laws.

The main reason the public is less supportive of gay marriage is that marriage is also a symbol that holds deep cultural meaning. The power of the symbol is as important to gay-rights activists as it is to those who think gays shouldn’t marry. That explains a 2009 Pew poll showing some 57 percent of Americans support civil unions and 37 percent oppose it, while only 39 percent support same-sex marriage, and 53 percent oppose it.

6 of 7
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.