Marriage for All, But Not This 20-Something

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

She's an ardent proponent of marriage equality, but the ideal gets fuzzy in her own life. Krystie Lee Yandoli meditates on her part in the trend by 20-something women to delay or forego marriage.

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Enjoying the Rewards

Yes, we've come a long way since the days of bartering brides in exchange for dowries, but as of now, I'm content to enjoy some of the rewards of a generation that isn't so dependent on marriage. I'm not eager to join a tradition that expects me to change my last name to that of my male counterpart and have my father walk me down the aisle and pass me over to my husband.

I support those friends who want to enter the heterosexual marriage culture--and perhaps continue to update it--but for me it's not tempting.

And I'm not alone in my hesitation to rush to the altar.

Despite the seeming wedding mood all around me on campus and on TV, Census figures in May found Americans waiting longer to get married and the median age for marriage last year was 26 for women, up from 22 in 1980.

Since 1986, the number of women ages 25 to 29 who have never married has jumped sharply, to 47 percent from 27 percent.

Women with better jobs, women with more education and women enjoying the single life (cue "Sex and the City" here) are all possible explanations.

These same women have also become increasingly liberal and progressive in our ideology and political discourse. The Gallup Poll reported in May 2011 that for the first time a majority of Americans, 53 percent, believe the law should recognize same-sex marriage.

Youth Support

The same report implies that the future of legal same-sex marriage rests with America's youth: 70 percent among those aged 18 to 34 support same-sex marriage in comparison to 39 percent among those 55 and older.

Apparently, many other young women, like me, avidly support same-sex marriage without any strong, urgent interest in entering the institution themselves.

We must be a concern and target of the social conservatives; perhaps one of the reasons they are barrage-attacking reproductive rights is to drive us back into the walls of marriage.

But that won't work for me.

I am pro-equality, pro-rights and pro-choice and I think this is true for many in my generation. It all boils down to an individual's right to choose and the government's role in enabling these rights as American citizens. As the saying goes, same-sex couples have every right to be just as miserable as straight couples.

Perhaps one day I'll grow up and change my mind about getting married. Maybe I'll find a way to honor my family's religious and cultural tradition without compromising my own values. Maybe I'll decide that it's financially beneficial to sign legal documentation with a long-time partner.

Or perhaps, better yet, I'll throw logic out the window, follow my heart, and wind up in a white wedding after all. But it would have to happen like that; while I'm making other plans.


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Krystie Lee Yandoli is a freelance writer and student at Syracuse University.

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