How Do You Define Marriage?

The legal definition of marriage has evolved over the past two decades, culminating in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision in June 2015. But what about how Americans personally view marriage? From a list of options, half choose “a covenant before God between a man and a woman” (51%) as best representing their view of marriage. The traditional Christian definition is not equally popular across age groups, however. Elders are 19 percentage points more likely than Millennials to prefer this definition (61% vs. 42%), while Boomers (54%) and Gen-Xers (52%) fall between the oldest and youngest generation.

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As one might expect, there are religious differences on this question as well. For example, practicing Christians choose the traditional definition by a wide margin (86%), while Americans with no faith (including atheists, agnostics and “none”) prefer to define marriage as a civil agreement either between two adults of any gender (52%) or between a man and a woman (21%).


Source: Barna OmniPoll, August 24–26, 2015, N=1,000.

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