Gettin’ Hitched: Marriage in America
Last month, President Obama became the first American president to publicly support same-sex marriage. And other Americans’ views of what makes a marriage are changing, too. The public today is just about evenly divided between supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage — a huge shift from fifteen years ago, when more than two thirds of Americans opposed it.
So for this hour of BackStory, we dig into how Americans have defined marriage over the years — and how those definitions have changed. Who’s allowed to marry, and what’s at stake when couples break the rules? Over the years, all kinds of marriages have been contested or banned outright: interracial marriages, polygamous marriages, child marriages, same-sex marriages, marriages of enslaved people, and marriages between Americans and foreigners. So why have some disagreements about marriage melted away while others have become more contentious? How have the rules we make about marriage changed our families and our society?
Please help us shape this show! How is your marriage different from your parents’? Is marriage less important now than it used to be? And why are American so devoted to marriage…yet so prone to divorce?