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The Battle over Marriage

The Battle over Marriage: Gay Rights Activism through the Media

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    The Battle over Marriage
    Book Description:

    Over the past decade, the controversial issue of gay marriage has emerged as a primary battle in the culture wars and a definitive social issue of our time. The subject moved to the forefront of mainstream public debate in 2004, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom began authorizing same-sex marriage licenses, and it has remained in the forefront through three presidential campaigns and numerous state ballot initiatives. In this thorough analysis, Leigh Moscowitz examines how prominent news outlets presented this issue from 2003 to 2012, a time when intense news coverage focused unprecedented attention on gay and lesbian life.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09538-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1. Gay Marriage in an Era of Media Visibility
    (pp. 1-24)

    For nearly a decade, longtime partners Davina Kotulski and Molly McKay celebrated Valentine’s Day by dressing up in traditional wedding garb: Davina in a tux, Molly in a white gown. They stood in line with hundreds of opposite-sex couples at San Francisco’s city hall to request a marriage license. Every year, they were denied one. As a committed lesbian couple and activists in the movement for marriage equality, Davina and Molly rehearsed their annual futile quest for a marriage license precisely so that they would be turned down in front of local television news crews and newspaper photographers. With the...

  5. 2 Fighting the “Battle to Be Boring”: Marriage as a Portal into the Mainstream
    (pp. 25-52)

    In the office suite of the gay and lesbian rights organization Freedom to Marry, I waited patiently for my first interview to begin. Across the table from me sat Samiya, the organization’s young communications director, who was rifling through the paperwork I had sent her before the interview. Her brow furrowed, she picked up her pen and began to circle and cross out several words. She made some notations in the margins, then signed her name on the line to indicate that she agreed to participate in the study. As she handed the papers back to me, I noticed she...

  6. 3. “The Marrying Kind”: The Face of Gay Marriage in the News
    (pp. 53-76)

    The July 7, 2003, edition ofNewsweekmagazine featured two “poster couples”—one gay and one lesbian—to symbolize the controversial, captivating, and soon-to-be pervasive issue of gay marriage.Newsweek’s cover director, Bruce Ramsay, decided to do a “split run” for that week, producing alternate covers of the same magazine issue (White, 2003). OneNewsweekcover photo featured a medium shot of two young Caucasian women, smiling warmly, both facing the camera. One woman stands behind the other and cradles her in an embrace, their hands clasped at their hips. The couple, who could easily be mistaken for sisters and...

  7. 4. Gay Marriage Goes Prime-Time: Journalistic Norms Frame the Debate
    (pp. 77-98)

    The July 13, 2003, edition of ABC’sNightlineopened with what was considered a “shocking” image for prime-time news audiences at that time: a middle-age lesbian couple engaged in an open-mouth kiss during their wedding ceremony (Morris & Sloop, 2006; Sievers, 2004, July 13). The voice of one partner is dubbed over the video: “With this kiss, I thee wed.” The image is immediately contrasted with a sound bite from a protester outside city hall shouting in anger, “What two men do when they get together, what two women do when they get together, is perverting the human body!” The next...

  8. 5. Speaking Out: Representing Gay Perspectives in News Discourse
    (pp. 99-124)

    On November 6, 2008, as CNN’s Anderson Cooper described, “anger spilled into the streets” as demonstrators protested the passage of California’s Proposition 8 (Doss, 2008, November 6). By a slim margin, 52 percent of the state’s voters approved the controversial ballot measure that reversed the earlier state supreme court decision, once again making same-sex marriages in California illegal. The Prop 8 measure represented the most expensive campaign outside of the presidential contest and set a new record for spending on a social policy initiative. The “Yes on 8” campaign, seeking to ban gay marriages in the state, raised $39.9 million;...

  9. 6. Conclusion: The Trouble with Marriage
    (pp. 125-134)

    In the 2000s “the politics of social difference and gay identity” moved to the center stage in mainstream cultural debate (Becker, 2006, p. 219). The intense media coverage surrounding the issue of same-sex marriage, launched by theLawrencedecision in June 2003, fueled America’s “straight panic” (Becker, 2006; Walters, 2001b). Straight America had come head to head with the politics of heterosexual privilege over the issue of same-sex-marriage rights. At the center of this confrontation was the fear that gay marriage would destabilize traditional heterosexual unions. For example, the March 3, 2004, episode of CBSNightly News(Reiss, 2004, March...

  10. Appendix: Studying Gay Marriage in the Media
    (pp. 135-148)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 149-150)
  12. References
    (pp. 151-158)
  13. Index
    (pp. 159-164)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 165-170)