Although there are a few Flat-Earthers out there who still believe gay marriage can be stopped, everyone else has accepted (or celebrated) it as an eventual inevitability. So now the question is: what’s next? Not just what’s next for LGBT equality–but also, what’s next for marriage?
Earlier this year, I took up this question and asked whether marriage will change gay people (by domesticating and normalizing us) or whether gay people will change marriage (by mainstreaming non-monogamy and lessening gender roles).
The recent book by June Carbone and Naomi Cahn, Marriage Markets, suggests that I was on the wrong track. Their argument? That the fate of marriage as an institution has little to do with morality–and a lot more to do with money. Quoting James Carville early on, they write, “It’s the economy, stupid.” In fact, Cahn and Carbone show, trend lines on marriage and divorce don’t seem to follow the shifts (if any) in public morality. But they do follow those of economics. For the last 20 years, marriage rates among college graduates–those most likely to support LGBT equality and reproductive freedom–have actually gone up, and divorce rates have declined. Meanwhile, marriage rates among high-school graduates have declined, and those among high-school dropouts have plunged.