June 17, 2013

Positive Same-Sex Marriage Media Coverage Is Not Bias

Conservative opponents of same-sex marriage will likely point to a new Pew study as evidence of liberal media bias.

Journalism.org — 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.

But this is not support vs. opposition, it’s right vs. wrong. Conservative public figures who are vocal opponents of same-sex marriage will certainly decry persecution, saying they are unfairly labeled as bigots, but that is what they are. Because we aren’t just talking about private beliefs, we are talking about legislated beliefs. These conservatives are on the wrong side of the issue, because human rights are not up for debate. One group doesn’t get to decide the rights of another group. When these conservatives deny others the same rights they have, at best it’s discrimination, at worst, it’s flat-out bigotry.

According to the Pew study, forty-seven percent of nearly 500 stories studied offered positive coverage of same-sex marriage, with only nine percent offering opposition to marriage equality. Forty-four percent offered equal coverage.

Interestingly, Fox News had more stories with supportive statements about same-sex marriage than opposing.

This news media focus on support held true whether the stories were reported news articles or opinion pieces, and was also the case across nearly all media sectors studied. All three of the major cable networks, for instance, had more stories with significantly more supportive statements than opposing, including Fox News.

I would not have guessed that, but it only further shows where this issue is heading if the Fox News conservative media dynasty is unable to sustain opposition. This is not an issue of beliefs or religion. It’s a civil rights issue. There is no convincing argument on the side of opposition, so same-sex marriage opponents are left to assert their beliefs as “good enough” arguments against charges of discrimination and bigotry. But it’s not good enough. Conservatives are free to hold their private beliefs, but those beliefs shall not infringe upon the rights of others.

Nobody is forcing straight conservatives to gay marry or to believe in same-sex marriage, they simply need to stop punishing people they cannot or will not relate to. But of course this basic understanding of human rights does not speak to those who hold on to a narrow view of the world, but such antiquated beliefs fade with each generation.

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