On Tuesday, USA Today released a video from their 'Capitol Downloads with Susan Paige' series, in which Paige interviews National Organization for Marriage's president Brian Brown about the recent victory for marriage equality in Rhode Island and the next states considering it.
Brown is quick to discount Rhode Island as just another liberal state, unrepresentative of the rest of the country. He keeps insisting that the majority of Americans support "traditional" marriage and Paige never brings up the fact that, according to about two years of polls, majority opinion has shifted to being strongly in favor of marriage equality.
Paige does, however, bring up a recent Pew Research Center poll which found that 70% of millennials (people born after 1980) support marriage equality.
"Doesn't [such a large percentage] present a tremendous challenge to someone who opposes gay marriage?" Paige asks.
"We believed all sort of things when we were younger that we no longer believe."
Excuse me? Marriage equality is not like the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. (spoiler alert on those, by the way.) It's not something that young people believe in until they "learn better." Belief in the value of marriage equality springs from belief in love, respect, justice, and equality. Which, I guess according to Brown, only kids believe in?
Not only that, but the early millennials are now old enough to be raising young children of their own. These are not doe-eyed high school students trying to rebel against their parents. They are adults, who exist in a modern America that recognizes same-sex couples and the families they start as valuable members of the fabric of our country.
The Millennial generation was the first to be entirely born in a post-Stonewall world. We have overwhelmingly known more openly LGBT people earlier than previous generations might have known in their entire lives. Some of us are those openly LGBT people. Some of us, like me, were raised by openly LGBT people from the previous generations. Brown is right to bring up the media and Hollywood. Through them, we have had far more access to LGBT role models and accurate representations (as opposed to harmful stereotypes) than any previous generation. When even the oldest of us was only twenty-four, we saw the passage of marriage equality in the very first state in the country and as we have grown, we have seen nine more states (and Washington DC) follow suit, with several more on the cusp.
At every turn in American politics, the (at best) stubborn have blamed "naïve" young people for one thing or another. And as they have grown, a majority of those in each new generation has shaken their heads in embarrassment and shame at closed-mindedness, and pushed America towards greater equality.