Gay Marriage Bias?

President Bush yesterday announced his support of a constitutional amendment to protect the sanctity of marriage by defining it as the union of one man and one woman. Apparently, the Washington Times and the Chicago Tribune are two of the few newspapers to get the memo, as reflected in their headlines on this major story — the Times topped with “Bush Urges Amendment on Marriage; Pushes Passage to Protect Institution” and the Tribune had “Bush: Protect Marriage.”

What did most of the rest of the major papers in the United States report about the story in their headlines? That the President had announced his support for a “ban” on gay marriages. (I must include here that the sub-headline for the Tribune was “Calls for Constitutional Amendment to Bar Gay Couples from Marrying.”)

Now, maybe the President does support an actual, active “ban” on gay marriages, but that’s not what his announcement — which was the source for the news story — included yesterday. Instead, he spoke positively of his desire to protect the institution that has served humanity well for so many millennia.

    Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society. Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all. Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass, and to send to the states for ratification, an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife. The amendment should fully protect marriage, while leaving the state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage.

Even the language of the leading proposed amendment, the Musgrave amendment, does not include a “ban” on gay marriage. Here’s what the legislation would add the following to the Constitution:

    Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

If the nation’s newsrooms want to report that such an amendment is a “ban” on gay marriage, fine. But in order to assuage the millions of Americans who believe the media has a bias in favor of culturally liberal movements like gay marriage, perhaps the papers should have included headlines like these:

“Bush Backs a Constitutional Ban on Bestial-Marriages”


“President Bush Supports Barring Polygamy”

But they didn’t.

They didn’t include a full accounting of the amendment as viewed from standpoint — the standpoint these newsrooms chose — of what it bans, which would include marriage to animals and multiple spouses. Instead, they headlined their stories as a supposed attack on the freedoms of homosexuals.

Whether their motives were based in a bias for gay marriage or they simply saw this type of reporting as a more effective way to sell newspapers (by including the word “ban” rather than “protect” or “preserve” or “defend”) newspapers nationwide used these types of headlines:

  • “Bush Backs Ban in Constitution on Gay Marriage”
    –New York Times
  • “Bush Backs Amendment Banning Gay Marriage”
    –Washington Post
  • “Bush Backs Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage”
    Wall Street Journal
  • “Bush Seeks Constitutional Ban of Same-Sex Marriage”
    –Los Angeles Times
  • “Bush Supports Amendment to Bar Gay Marriage”
    –The Sun (Baltimore)
  • “Bush Backs Gay-Marriage Ban”
    USA Today
  • “Nope to Gay Nups; Prez Wants Amendment to Ban Same-Sex Marriage”
    –New York Daily News
  • “Bush: Put Gay-Wed Ban in Constitution”
    –New York Post
  • “Bush Says U.S. Needs to Ban Gay Marriages”
    –Arkansas Democrat Gazette
  • “Bush Urges Amendment: Gay Wed Ban”
    –Boston Herald
  • “Bush: Ban Gay Marriage”
    –Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • “Bush Urges Ban on Gay Weddings”
    –Miami Herald
  • “Bush Calls for Amendment to Ban Same-Sex Marriage”
    –San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Bush Seeks Gay-Marriage Ban”
    –Philadelphia Inquirer
  • “Bush Wants U.S. Ban on Same-Sex Marriage”
    –San Jose Mercury News