Thursday, July 21, 2011

Same-Sex Marriages to Begin in New York State this Sunday -- Media Coverage Continues Shift to Focus on Personal Aspect of Issue

This weekend, New York State will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples -- this Sunday to be precise. Many New York judges have volunteered to work on Sunday in order to expedite the issuing of marriage licenses according to a story in last week's New York Times.

An Op-Ed column by Frank Bruni in today's New York Times highlights how the new law will change the lives of one New York City family. The story about dads Jonathan Mintz and John Feinblatt and daughters Maeve and Georgia is heartwarming. The piece emphasizes the personal nature of the issue  -- an angle that proved important during the debate over the bill's passage in New York last month. 

In fact, some would argue that the framing of the same-sex marriage debate has shifted. News coverage focuses less on moral and religious objections to same-sex marriage and instead emphasizes concerns about equality and civil rights and the influence of personal and social contact on public opinion. This evolution in the framing of the same-sex marriage debate aligns with shifts in public attitudes toward the same-sex marriage issue, as a majority of Americans now say they support recognizing same-sex marriages as legally valid.

In the past few days, it also seems that President Obama's position on same-sex marriage has evolved. The President recently offered his support for a Senate bill sponsored by Dianne Feinsten (D-CA) that would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. 

While it seems unlikely that the bill will gain full Congressional support, this latest legislative step and the recent New York case means that the issue of same-sex marriage will remain on the national agenda as the 2012 election cycle continues to intensify. In addition, look for states like Maryland and Maine to focus on the same-sex marriage issue in the coming months.

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