Los Angeles Times media columnist Tim Rutten (access requires subscription) is asking some serious questions about the media blitz that is driving the same-sex marriage wave from the blue-state Northeast to the blue-state West.
The overarching image, he notes, is that this extra-legal change resembles the Civil Rights Movement. This is interesting, in that the U.S. Supreme Court has — lacking any kind of scientific clarity on the origins of homosexuality — stopped short of directly equating homosexual orientation with race, gender, etc. Of course, homosexuality could also claim to be a religion and, thus, gain protected status. I once quipped that all of the gay members of the various traditional churches should all convert to the Episcopal Church and then claim that they were facing discrimination based on their chosen faith. That might work.
But I digress. Rutten ends with thoughts from CNN political analyst William Schneider, who notes why this entire topic will cause tensions in newsrooms for years or even decades to come. The Civil Rights era, notes Schneider,
“. . . is evidence of how the courts can force change and abortion is an example of how they cannot. Public opinion accommodated itself to the court’s ruling in Brown. In 1973, when the court decided Roe vs. Wade, public opinion did not shift. In fact, it has become more divided in the years since. That’s because people’s views on abortion are deeply grounded in religion. Abortion remains a highly contentious issue because it involves a big conflict between the theory of rights and religious conviction. The same may be true for same-sex marriage.”
So what does this have to do with reporters and editors on the God-beat? There is this final haunting statement from Rutten, quoting Schneider:
“(The) press may have as much trouble handling this issue as it traditionally has had with the debate over abortion` and for the same reason. “On the national level,” said Schneider, “the press is one of the most secular institutions in American society. It just doesn’t get religion or any idea that flows from religious conviction.”
Imagine that — finding a plug for our blog in the Los Angeles Times.