College students overwhelmingly support the freedom to marry

By Cameron Tolle, Freedom to Marry's Online Organizer 

I am just beginning to adjust to life in the “real world” after graduating from college this past May.  As you may know, the college lifestyle has a lot of perks—a flexible class schedule, a vivid social life, and a wide array of cultural experiences.  Perhaps the perk that I benefited from most, though, was the open-mindedness of my peers.  I entered my freshman year of college, like most queer students, a bit timid. On top of the regular fears of moving away from home and starting a new chapter in my life, I had just come out and wasn’t sure how welcoming and accepting my peers would be when I told them that I’m gay.

Thankfully, my fears were quickly put at ease as I immersed myself in the college lifestyle.  While navigating my new campus and adjusting to my closet-sized dorm room, I found that most of my peers weren’t too concerned with how I identified my sexual orientation.  As I began to take a leadership role in my university’s queer/straight Alliance, I discovered that most of the student population supported, or at the very least didn’t oppose our efforts to make campus more inclusive for LGBTQ students and staff.  Though the abundance of support at my school was surprising to me, it was seemingly on par with trends of college students across the country. College students, while undoubtedly not immune from heteronormative discrimination, are often well ahead of society at large in their support of the freedom to marry.

Data compiled by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California Los Angeles shows that support for the freedom to marry on college campuses is both prevalent and growing. In a survey administered last fall, “65 percent of the college freshman . . . supported same-sex marriage compared with 58 percent of Americans 18 to 29 years old.” [1]  That's a nine percent increase from the 56% of freshman who were supportive in 2000.  And even those who traditionally oppose marriage equality don’t make it much of a priority to discriminate against same-sex couples.  A 2010 CPAC straw poll showed that only 1% of respondents  “identified protecting traditional marriage as one of the issues most important to them.”

And this is why Freedom to Marry has launched Students for Marriage, a campaign to effectively inform and mobilize young Americans in the movement for marriage equality.  We know that while the Prop 8 verdict makes its way through the court and other state legislatures grapple with marriage legislation, the best thing we can do is continually enhance the court of public opinion by changing hearts and minds across the country.  And what better way to do that than by empowering a portion of the population who understands why it’s so important to stop excluding gay and lesbian families from marriage. Join the Students for Marriage page today and let’s turn the 65% of college students who support marriage into 65% of college students who are actively working to advance the freedom to marry nationwide!  


[1]Approval of Gay Marriage Is Greater Among College Freshmen ThanAmericans at Large,” The Chronicle of Higher Education. 03/16/2010