UPDATED: Resources for Reporting on the Ninth Circuit’s Prop 8 Ruling

nlgja

UPDATE II:

Analysis is beginning to pour in.  For a good, meaty explanation of the legal issues, check out Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSBlog.  Another thorough look, including the background, is from Chris Geidner at MetroWeekly.

For a conservative take on the ruling, read Ed Whelan at National Review’s Bench Memos. A quick list of immediate reactions from LGBT and progressive groups was assembled by JoeMyGod.

 

UPDATE: The Ruling is in. 2-1 finding Prop. 8 is unconstitutional. A link to the decision is here.

The Ninth Circuit will issue its ruling on the challenge to Proposition 8, a voter referendum in California that barred same-sex marriages.  Here is the page that will feature the ruing and previous filings/rulings in the case.

For information on the court case, check out primers created by Chris Geidner at MetroWeekly, Ari Ezra Waldman at Towleroad and Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog.

Questions about covering marriage?  Check out NLGJA’s Getting the Marriage Story Right: the History, Current Law & the Future and NLGJA’s Stylebook Supplement.  And take a look at Press Pass Q’s analysis of the use of gay marriage versus same-sex marriage.

Here’s what NLGJA said in 2010 about how to cover the issue, and it is still great advice:

As a result of today’s ruling on Prop 8, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association would like to remind journalists, bloggers, columnists and media analysts the important role they play in giving citizens the information they need to understand the full impact that today’s ruling will have in their communities and across the country.

Journalists covering the issues of same-sex marriage, civil unions and partnership rights should familiarize themselves with specifics of the California case, the history of other cases involving marriage rights for LGBT individuals and the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Reporters should note the differences between marriage law and the legal designation of civil unions. Civil unions are presumed to extend marriage benefits and protections; however, they do not include federal benefits available to married couples. Civil unions also have no effect on religious congregations and their option to bless or not bless civil unions registered with these states.

As NLGJA has previously noted, the oft-used term “gay marriage” is both inaccurate and misleading. “Gay marriage” implies the creation of a new set of legal standards and guidelines as opposed to what is being sought by most advocates – the extension of currently existing benefits and responsibilities to include same-sex couples. More appropriate terminology in discussing such legislation would be “marriage rights for same-sex couples.” Or, in those instances where a briefer description is necessary, “same-sex marriage” as “same-sex” is a more accurate and inclusive description than “gay.”

Proper framing of stories is essential when considering potential sourcing. Same-sex marriage remains controversial, and many different sets of opinions may be individually valid, but may be less appropriate when played against one another. For example, legal expertise should be differentiated from religious quotes and opinions. A legal expert’s comments on points of marriage law and civil legislation should not be contrasted with opinions of theologians.

Journalists should also consider diversity of opinion when bringing these stories to readers, viewers and listeners. Look for voices other than the standard “go-to” sources quoted most often, and work to go beyond preconceived ideas regarding who would be the “pro” and “con” sides of the marriage debate. Not all members of the LGBT community are in favor of same-sex marriage; not all members of communities of faith are opposed.

One Response

  1. These articles are great. Also — AFER’s going to be releasing a special Marriage News Watch as soon as the ruling comes out, explaining what it means and what’s next. And we’re also live streaming the press conferences.

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