The California Supreme Court, you might have heard, changed my native state’s definition of marriage. Marriage had been defined as the union between one man and one woman. Now marriage is defined as the union between two people of any gender.
Surely religious leaders had something to say about this profound change. After all, they took the lead eight years ago when state residents voted on whether to keep the traditional definition of marriage. The Catholic Church and Mormon Church mobilized strongly in support of the initiative, while liberal and progressive religious groups actively opposed it.
In other words, the voices of religious leaders matter. What do bishops and pastors think of the majority’s ruling that changes the definition of marriage? Do they equate sexual orientation with race?
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but reporters failed to include religious voices in their stories. Only the The Los Angeles Times even acknowledged religious leaders:
The campaign over that measure began within minutes of the decision. The state’s Catholic bishops and other opponents of same-sex marriage denounced the court’s ruling.
None of the other major papers mentioned religious leaders at all. The Washington Post did not mention them. The New York Times did not mention them. (The LAT certainly elaborated on what my hometown’s mayor had to say).
Come on. The absence of religious voices is a serious error. It leaves readers in the dark about how churches will respond to the ruling. For example, I think readers would like to know what religious leaders have to say about this passage:
The majority opinion went to some length to say the ruling had no effect on the religious institution of marriage. “No religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples,” George wrote, “and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.”
Mollie often points out, rightfully, that reporters focus on politics and ignore religion. But in the case of the California Supreme Court’s ruling, politics and religion cannot be divided. Just consider the effort underway to overturn the court’s decision. You can bet that the state’s religious institutions will play a major role on both sides of that issue; and that, inevitably, religious leaders will be heard from.