The press does not leave any topic out of coverage. The most controversial ones are hotly discussed and researched. One of the topics that has arisen non-stop in discussions and reviews is same-sex marriages in the United States. The issue of the same-sex marriage debate is very difficult and controversial. It has been influenced by the movements of the women’s rights, gay rights, the black civil rights and the evolution of marriage and constitutional jurisprudence. It may seem that this issue may attract so much attention only because of this year Presidential campaign, but this topic has been discussed for a decade. Support of this topic increased steadily with supporters who achieved a majority in 2010. In August 2010, the New York Times reported the fact that gay marriage support had increased since 1990s and reached 50 percent (Kiely). At the same time, CNN became the first national poll that showed support for same-sex marriages, numerous polls that showed majority support appeared only afterwards (Gelman, Jeffrey and Justin).
The Problem of Discrimination
Discrimination still remains one of the most wide-spread problems all over the world. Lots of pains are taken to combat this negative phenomenon in the United States, where the problem of intolerance appears to be very poignant. Of course, it could sound a bit ironically that country, having a black man as the President, confronts any discrimination, nonetheless, it is true.
Intolerance is not just a problem of some particular people; it can turn out to be a tragedy of the whole country and its great shame.
Actually, the problem of gay rights cannot be regarded as newly appeared. All the homosexuals from different parts of the planet fight for their rights that should be equal to those gained by heterosexuals.
Of course, there is no need to mention those people who devoted their lives to fighting for the rights of homosexuals. It is almost unbelievable that the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson that claimed for the rights of every citizen to be observed, technically served only the interests of heterosexuals. Thus, being a nation of the nations, the USA turned out to be unable to provide all the citizens with equal rights. Since the very start of the US history, gays were fighting at first for their freedom and then - for their rights for marriage. The attitude and public perception of gays and lesbians still deserves to be discussed.
Living in civilized society, where human rights must be observed and cherished, it is hard to believe that some people still suffer from intolerant treating and have their rights violated. Very few people really pay their precious attention to the problem of stereotypical depiction of homosexuals by contemporary mass media. Still, it does not mean that such problem doe not exist at all.
It is an undeniable fact that every nation, every ethnic group is viewed through the prism of a set of social stereotypes that not always and, frankly speaking, almost never prove to be true. Homosexuals are a special category which very often becomes exploited by mass media in its own interests. The question of a famous journalist Jake Snow is very topical and sounds anxious, - “Think about how often you see a homosexual being portrayed on the screen as brave, intelligent, and strong or playing a leadership role?”(Jacobs 2010). Maybe some people would say they do not have to focus their attention on such trifles and this problem is not very serious, but, nonetheless, it does not become less abusive and humiliating. The very fact of arousing this issue is quite outspoken – if people talk about that, it means something is not OK here.
Legalization of Same-sex Marriages
Jullian Rayfield gave a prompt answer to the question of gay marriage legalization. The article of the author named “New York State Senate Passes Marriage Equality Bill” (24 June, 2011) considers background information and reactions for gay marriage in the State of New York. Many years have passed since the first time gays made an attempt to protect their rights and initiated a struggle for their love. Currently, gay marriage was legalized in the New York State Senate and this fact should be considered as victory of gays of America. This struggle occurred on the political background, though this issue is of a social and individual nature. Gay community received support from some political parties, and it shows that modern politicians are open-minded and are ready for changes and blurring of limits of modern society.
Republicans supported legalization of gay marriage, because they would undermine democratic principles of their policies. It is possible to claim that harmonious society depends on harmonious members, happy individuals, which have a chance to live their lives with their beloved persons. Why not to have a child in the families of this type? As a rule, gays are loving parents and there are no objective reasons for preventing them from being parents. There are evident changes in modern society and the institute of marriage reflects these changes, as well. Gay marriage as a new social institution is still unstable, but it is possible to argue that this social phenomenon has a chance to survive in modern society.
Nevertheless, the fact that gay marriage is negatively accepted in the modern society cannot be denied. Thus, Bidstrup is focused on morality of gay marriage. There are many social stereotypes, which have been developed in society for many years, and gay marriage is often positioned as a morally perverted phenomenon, which is not appropriate even for modern diverse society. This fact can be explained by considerations of gay marriage in emotional context, where the main emphasis is made on intimate and sexual relations of gays and not on their social roles. Gays are perceived as abnormal or deviant individuals, which reach their satisfaction in a perverse manner. It is better to discuss an option of gay marriage as a socially beneficial phenomenon, when two beloved persons are able to contribute much to the development of the community and of society, as well.
Moreover, gay marriage and adoption of children should be considered as socially favorable phenomena, because both of these factors will create atmosphere of tolerance, patience and understanding in society. It is possible to underline positive nature of gays as potential spouses or parents in such a way: “loyal to their mates, are monogamous, devoted partners. They value and participate in family life, are committed to making their neighborhoods and communities safer and better places to live, and honor and abide by the law” (Jacobs 2010). Thus, it is appropriate for the contemporaries to provide gay couples with an option to be sound spouses and parents, and take part in the lives of the members of their communities, in particular, and in the American society, in general. Having children in gay marriages is a necessity for those people, because a family without children is incomplete. Gays are good parents, and this fact is often proven in the majority of sources.
Opponents would argue that legalization of gay marriage and adoption can “threaten an institution of marriage or lead to a “slippery slope" towards legalized incest, bestial marriage, polygamy and all manners of other horrible consequences” (Jacobs 2010). This claim of opponents can be argued, because homosexuality is not a “slippery slope” at all. It is an individual psychological and emotional condition, and to legalize gay marriage is to make those individuals sound members of society, having the same rights, as the rest of society. Tolerance, love and respect are three basic pillars for every society, and there is no need to undermine those basics, but rather work in favor of their improvement.
Let one recollects how gays are usually portrayed. Though it is hard to disagree that their characters are often a complete embodiment of positive and life-asserting values, the mass media has caught the stereotypic portraying immediately, and proceeds exploiting it nowadays. Gays are usually shown as unhappy, persecuted, criticized and condemned. “The stereotypical homosexual being portrayed by the media is shallow, weak, unintelligent and incapable of making decisions on his/her own, untrustworthy, materialistic, and promiscuous” (Jacobs 2010). Homosexuals are supposed to be narrow-minded, always unsatisfied with their own lives, they are rarely portrayed as successful business men/women, learned professors or simply reserved and well-educated member of society. Of course, they are never portrayed as having strong and happy marriage.
Homosexuals are usually represented as unattractive members of society. However, what about heterosexuals? Proceeding from those stereotypes, supported by lots of heterosexuals, it is possible to make a conclusion that all heterosexuals are prudent, supporting and cherishing high moral standards, almost puritans. Though, it is obvious that there are a lot of immoral, sexually insatiable people or prostitutes, those homosexual’s sin turns to be unforgivable. Gays and lesbians are still treated and represented as immoral people who do not have a right to get married and be happy.
The first same-sex marriages were registered in the United States in 2004. Later, such marriages were legalized in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington and New York. In the press recognition of same-sex relationships, as marriages are among the most popular, sensitive and important in America. The press tries to provide weaknesses and strengths of this discussion, and shows why the arguments in favor of the same-sex marriages are so persuasive and reasonable. It is noted that the Public attitude towards the same-sex marriages varies.
Same-sex marriages, especially gay marriages, were the most discussed issues in the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times during 2003 and 2004. The New York Times emphasized on the topic of human equality related to the gay marriage legitimization. The Chicago Tribune spoke about the importance of human morality associated with the debate of the gay-marriage and made an emphasis on the values of the American family. Later, after the Massachusetts ruling, the Times dramatically changed the coverage of this issue. It started to quote more and more people identifies as gay. At that time the Tribune was more consistent and conservative whereas“The Time had a liberal outlook”(Jacobs).
The way how the issue is debated, its context and conceptualization affect the ways in which the sexual minorities’ knowledge is produced. The most prominent changes in the discussions are shown in the media, particularly the press, where a shift from morality and religious principles to the discussion of children welfare and the marriage institution is strongly indicated. The support of the same-sex marriages is more likely today than in the years when the emphasis was made on equality and constitutional rights. This shift, if related to the changes of public opinion, is considered to be the indication of a new era of the same-sex marriage legislation.
The announcement of Barrack Obama provides a basement for the swing-state analysis. His positive attitude and support of the same-sex marriages has added to the support during the election campaign (Obama Makes a Stand, Says he Supports Gay Marriage). The campaign of Barack Obama released a statement which supported such marriages in Maryland, Washington state and Maine.
The re-election of the US president Barack Obama came at the time of the cultural shifts same-sex marriage was legalized in several states. This year, Obama has expressed his opinion concerning support of same-sex marriages. After Obama started to speak about his intention of supporting same-sex marriages, a lot of newspapers, among them The Daily caller, NBC, Fox News, CNN, The New York Post, and The Christian Post, followed this story.
May 11-13 poll of registered voters by the New York Times and CBS showed 22 percent of Americans did not want to support the President because of the announcement on May 9th, in which he stated his support of same-sex marriages. Only 14 percent of citizens decided to support Obama in November. The media and press coverage makes it difficult for Obama to minimize or manage the issue recognition by the public (Favorable Same-Sex Marriage Coverage Frustrates Obama’s Media Plan). The election results were called a step forward and national evolution for equality of marriages across the country. The support of public for same-sex marriage is increasing in America and independent voters are a key to the success during the election.
In accordance with the modern researches and studies, it is found out that gays are devoted parents and their families succeed much from these loving and caring people. In such a way, there is a direct connection between the social success of the community and the society and legalization of gay marriage and the option of adoption. Furthermore, homosexuality is not considered a psychological or emotional deviance, but rather an inner necessity of self-realization. Gay marriage and adoption of children by gay couples is a necessary measure to be taken by modern society. Democratic principles of American society, availability of equal rights and freedom sustain this country for centuries. The contemporaries have an option to integrate democratic principles even more profoundly and discard homophobic beliefs of modern society. Thus, it is necessary to introduce policies of tolerance in society and bring young Americans in a friendly atmosphere, where not the gender of parents or spouses matter, but their devotion to the spouses, children and society.