Sunday, October 12, 2008

AP's Gay Agenda Drove Gay Marriage Policy

http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/1/6/9/9/5/p169953_index.html

The Gay Marriage Debate: Did the Media Agenda Drive the Policy Agenda or Vice Versa?

Justice Antonin Scalia insisted in a strongly worded dissent to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Lawrence v. Texas decision in 2003 that the ruling to decriminalize homosexuality would open the way for gay marriage.

Within months, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ordered its Legislature to permit same-sex unions. A continent away, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered his city to begin performing gay marriages.

This case study examines nearly 13 months of Associated Press coverage of the nationwide gay-marriage debate, culminating with the U.S. Senate’s defeat in 2004 of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions.

Using critical analysis, it explores how the media agenda influenced the policy agenda and vice versa. It finds that media-driven policy stories overwhelmed those driven by the policy agenda, since reporters have many more choices than do policymakers for keeping an issue alive.

Further, the U.S. presidential election campaigns of 2004 magnified the ways in which reporters could press for putting gay marriage on the policy agenda.

While the policy agenda on gay marriage certainly influenced the media agenda, the media agenda likely also propelled the policy agenda on both coasts, and in a dozen states in between, faster and further than it would have gone otherwise. This likely resulted because, in accord with the theorizing of Walgrave and Van Aelst (March 2006), gay marriage was an unobtrusive and new issue, political actors had clear responsibility over it, and the reporting was dramatic, unambiguous and pointed toward self-evident solutions.

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