TV Recognizes the “Modern Family”—Why Not Governments?
I don't watch "Modern Family," the prime-time sitcom depicting "non-traditional" -- e.g., same-sex, interracial, and inter-generational -- couples. Still, I'm struck by how fast family realities change and how slowly laws and societal perceptions about what's "right" reflect those changes.
The couples depicted in "Modern Family" were surely seen by society at large as more unusual in 2009, when the show first aired, than even just five years later. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering two cases that might pave the way for federal benefits for same-sex couples, the number of interracial marriages is steadily growing, and the combination of reproductive technologies, longer life-spans, and the normalization of serial monogamy has taken age somewhat out of the equation when it comes to forming a family.
Even so, real-life individuals in same-sex couples, or those who live with someone of a different race or generation from themselves, often face daily struggles to protect their families from legal uncertainty and publicly articulated disgust. Depending on where we live, our intimate lives and families may be subject to criminal sanctions, unequal legal protections, scrutiny, shaming, and belittling.