The Consequence of Cohabitation

by Nancy Rosenbaum, producer

Conservative Political Action Conference 2011A participant writes on a “Why Are You Conservative?” poster at the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

"The pro-life movement is definitely very appealing to younger evangelical Christians. … Definitely pushing the whole gay marriage thing, that’s more toward older folks. I don’t feel like our generation really cares about that at all."
Josh Kunkle, a senior at Manchester College on NPR

While some conservative mainstays boycotted the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this year to protest the inclusion of GOProud, an advocacy group “representing gay conservatives and their allies,” younger attendees came in droves. Polling data shows that Millennials — those born after 1980 — are more likely than any other generation to support gay marriage. This trend was reflected at CPAC, too.

Princeton philosophy professor Kwame Anthony Appiah characterizes this attitudinal shift as “the consequence of cohabitaton.” He says today’s college students are less homophobic because they’ve grown up knowing other gay peers — people they may or may not have liked, but who are nevertheless “just part of the normal range of what’s around” and therefore “the idea that these people are particularly horrendous is just not one that you can sell.”

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