Our chi square value is 0. When same-sex marriage first came up for debate as a possibility in the early s, the top argument against it was religiously based. The argument states that, because homosexuality is condemned in the Bible as an abomination, it is morally and religiously wrong to permit same-sex marriage in the United States. It is an honorable estate, instituted of God, and built on moral, religious, sexual and human realities.
Same-sex marriage is a violation of basic biblical tenets These themes of morality and religion occur with great frequency in the first half of our analysis.
This trend since by opponents of same-sex marriage has been to move away from a religious or moral stance, as will be discussed below. What accounts for the movement away from a religious or moral framework for debate?
In a article, U. In the same article, they reported that the Episcopal Church elected its first gay Bishop. During this same time period, decisions were pending in Massachusetts and New Jersey regarding whether same-sex marriage should be legalized.
We argue that this separation of church and state around homosexuality was ripe in legal and political discourse, and that, particularly after the landmark Lawrence v. Texas win in , opponents of same-sex marriage had no choice but to change the way they framed the issue. In his dissent in Lawrence v. This end of morals legislation in the courts is reflected in a significant decline in morals discourse in the media as well.
After the Lawrence v. Texas decision of , which declared sodomy to be legal, same-sex marriage opponents had less religious and moral grounds on which to disapprove of homosexuality as an immoral sexual act.
The clear separation of church, morality, and state reflected in the Lawrence v. Texas decision weakened these arguments. Instead, same-sex marriage opponents began to rely more heavily on arguments based in social scientific research, relating largely to claims that same-sex marriages are damaging for children.
Once gay rights activists gained more victories in the courts, we argue that same sex marriage opponents had to modify their language to be more of a court-compatible argument.
While this is not a very large shift, nonetheless it does correspond to the increase in rights-based arguments for this same time period leading to the possible conclusion that same-sex marriage proponents shifted their focus to rights claims. In , after staving off Defense of Marriage Act legislation at the state level in Massachusetts, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders brought a lawsuit seeking same-sex marriage rights.
In , the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that barring gays and lesbians from marrying violates the state constitution. However, like the Hawaii case, the issue of same-sex marriage prompted decisive action by the federal government.
Perhaps fearing that the Defense of Marriage Act was not strong enough to withstand judicial scrutiny, just weeks before the general election in , Sen. Twenty-four of Republicans joined in introducing the amendment, indicating that the constitutional amendment was a priority for the Republican leadership in the Senate. Activist courts have left the people with one recourse. If we are to try to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America.
Certainly this statement from the President helped as well to inform the changing nature of same-sex marriage discourse which dismissed rulings in favor of same-sex marriage as nothing more than minority opinions by liberal, activist judges.
While these arguments are similar in nature to the morality and religion-based arguments that predominated the discourse between and , the language used has shifted to focus more on marriage as an institution, as well as on historical, American family values. Rights-based arguments are common in both contemporary liberal and conservative articles on same sex marriage.
The shift in recent years to discuss same-sex marriage using the language of equal rights may be affecting the move towards greater national acceptance of homosexuality, as evidenced by polling data.
Certainly it is reflective of a significant change from the value-laden language of morality and religion to a more neutral, court-friendly argument over which groups are entitled to which rights.
Conclusion The context and conceptualization of the same-sex marriage debate affects the ways in which knowledge of gay and lesbian life is produced. When the issue is characterized as only a religious issue, it sets gay and lesbian individuals outside the realm of the courts. This line of argument restricts the definition of marriage to only heterosexual unions strictly because of biblical teachings.
This framework is problematic for evangelical Christians especially as gay rights activists have gained victory in some courts, and these groups are trying to adjust their arguments. This shift, as compared to the discourse a decade ago, seems reflective of a growing national acceptance toward homosexuals in the United States. The driving force behind this change could be frustration at the limited number of results that the religious right has been able to gain.
We argue, though, that a more convincing explanation for these shifts in discourse have to do with the normalizing affect that legal victories have had on the population as a whole, as reflected in journal and magazine articles of the time. The discourse regarding same-sex marriage over the past ten years, as reflected in conservative and liberal magazines and journals, has shifted significantly.
In this same time period national opinion has also shifted towards greater acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
The impact of that the media has had on this shift in public opinion is worth examining. Page argues that the media outlets hold key positions as disseminators of political information. Noting that many communication theorists might disagree, Page nonetheless questions the neutrality of news outlets. Page goes on to analyze the effect that media bias may have on the public, which is particularly salient to our study. He states that "the days of minimal effects by the media are over.
A large body of evidence now indicates that what appears in print or on the air has a significant impact upon how citizens think and what they think about. Equally relevant to our study is the notion that Page discusses regarding the diversity of voices within the media outlets.
Then citizens could presumably sort out the true from the false, the useful from the useless or misleading, and come to sensible conclusions. In our study of media representation of same-sex marriage, there is a dearth of liberal viewpoints. If Page is correct in his assertion, it might follow that, as the discourse in conservative magazines shifted to a more middle of the road discourse, so too did public opinion regarding same-sex marriage. The most prominent changes we found in the media discourse indicate a shift from discussion of religious principles, morality, and procreation to a discussion of the institution of marriage, welfare of children, and conversations around judicial activism.
After conducting this analysis, we found that the language of judicial activism strengthened as same-sex marriage proponents gained victories in the courts. In addition, those who support same-sex marriage are more likely today than in years past to focus on constitutional rights and equality. It seems that this shift away from value-laden, religiously based arguments to a more rights-based discourse, combined with public opinion shifts, indicates the arrival of a new, more progressive era of same-sex marriage legislation.
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