It’s pretty common knowledge that the public opinion on same-sex marriage has shifted greatly in the last four years. This has produced a happy case of schadenfreude with the Republican party, which not very long ago made gay marriage a primary issue to win elections by appealing to Evangelicals. Now it’s becoming clear that you can’t win a national election if you’ve previously committed yourself to being a public bigot.
So while the public has moved toward approval of marriage equality, Pew has now confirmed that the media is coming along as well:
In a period marked by Supreme Court deliberations on the subject, the news media coverage provided a strong sense of momentum towards legalizing same-sex marriage, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. Stories with more statements supporting same-sex marriage outweighed those with more statements opposing it by a margin of roughly 5-to-1.
In the coverage studied, the central argument among proponents of same-sex marriage was one of civil rights. Arguments against were more varied, but most often voiced the idea that same-sex marriage would hurt society and the institution of traditional marriage.
Almost half (47%) of the nearly 500 stories studied from March 18 (a week prior to the Supreme Court hearings), through May 12, primarily focused on support for the measure, while 9% largely focused on opposition and 44% had a roughly equal mix of both viewpoints or were neutral. In order for a story to be classified as supporting or opposing same sex marriage, statements expressing that position had to outnumber the opposite view by at least 2-to-1. Stories that did not meet that threshold were defined as neutral or mixed.
Many of the events themselves during the period studied, such as announcements by politicians and state legislation, reflected movement towards same-sex marriage. Polls show the nation’s views have been shifting as well, though there remains significant opposition with 51% of the public in support of legalizing same-sex marriage versus 42% opposed, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.
Arguments against were more varied, but most often voiced the idea that same-sex marriage would hurt society and the institution of traditional marriage.
First, I don’t grant that the “one man, one woman” model of marriage is traditional. There are many cultures and many religions, all with their own traditions and many of which include same-sex marriage. The traditions of Christianity shouldn’t trump them in the formation of laws.
Second, “traditional” is not a synonym for “good” or “maximally beneficial”. Slavery was a tradition. I’m glad it was replaced by a newer tradition of equality. Some traditions need to get flushed down the proverbial toilet, or at least be given a few vigorous wipes to make them applicable to modern society. If your view of traditional marriage cements inequality, it’s time to create a new tradition of fairness and support for love, not attachment to discrimination because of some arbitrary allegiance to “tradition”.