Matt Bruenig is a blogger and president of the left-leaning think tank People’s Policy Project. Stephanie Coontz is director of research and education for the Council on Contemporary Families and the author of several books about gender and the family, including Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage. Kay Hymowitz is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, and the author of Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age. Brad Wilcox is a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and the author of the forthcoming book, Get Married: Why Americans Must Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families, and Save Civilization, due out in February. Deadric Williams is a professor of sociology at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who studies race and family structure.
They spent more than an hour in a conversation, moderated by contributing writer Joanna Weiss. They debated the real sources of these concerns about marriage, whether the institution itself has “magical” properties for raising children and if properly supported families of any variety can offer the same advantages.