The issue of gay marriage in America

The USA Today reported on Feb. 12, city officials in San Francisco married at least 15 same-sex couples on the steps of City Hall.

In Massachusetts, state officials opted Feb. 12 to recess for one month before voting on the recent proposal to ban gay marriage in that state.

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The coverage of gay marriage in America has served as a forum for comment and criticism for politicians for or against same-sex marriage and for gay couples supporting the topic. In the USA Today story from San Francisco, one of the couples married was interviewed as well as a spokesperson for a group against gay marriage. This serves as one of the five functions of the 1947 Hutchins Commission report, “A Free and Responsible Press.”

In an effort to remain truthful and provide a comprehensive account of the topic, again both sides of the debate are given a chance to be heard in the newspaper. The story may look to represent just the act of same-sex marriage, but it also serves as a way to permit those against the issue a chance to explain why they feel that way, and what they are doing to stop the proposals from becoming reality.

Another function of the Hutchins Report is to “offer a representative picture of constituent groups in society.” The USA Today coverage represents an ever-growing group of Americans – the gay community. Their numbers may not actually be growing, but it may seem that their voices are louder. By covering the gay marriage topic, the media is reaching out to the social groups in America and providing a forum to them. By covering the issue of same-sex marriage, the media is not stereotyping, but providing information on a larger scale of what this group of citizens is seeking.

The media has also shown the goals each side of the fight would like to accomplish. On one end is gay America, hoping to achieve marriage status. On the other side are those who strongly oppose permitting same-sex marriage. The USA Today is transmitting cultural heritage by showing what each side is attaining and why they want it.

Through the media’s reporting, some strengths and weaknesses can be derived from the issue of same-sex marriage. The media in genera has given America Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Will & Grace and Ellen. News reports provide an ever-growing demand for homosexuals to be heard. In many cases, gay rights can be equated to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Each shows a group of American citizens wanting to be heard.

Some may consider homosexuals to be pushing the issue too hard, therefore making it a weakness. Though homosexuals have been around for ages, the idea of gay marriage in America is a relatively new idea.

The coverage in the USA Today provides several news elements:

* Impact – the report shows how the acceptance of gay marriage will help or hurt same-sex couples and their right to be married.

* Conflict – the coverage in the article shows both sides of the debate.

* Timeliness – each report released has a reason behind it. The report was released because of San Francisco’s recent gay weddings.

* Currency – though homosexuals have been around for a long time, a push to be heard has come out in the past 15 years, giving more attention in most recent years.

Objective reporting can provide an opportunity to educate citizens who may want to know more about same-sex marriage or homosexuals. The USA Today has provided that service in the article on the San Francisco same-sex wedding ceremonies. The article provides an interview with a homosexual couple, allowing readers the chance to see how this topic can affect individual people. At the same time, the story shows a perspective of the other side, also allowing readers to see a different point of view.

It seems as if the issue of same-sex marriage in America will not go away, therefore, some things should be considered when covering the topic in the future. Americans do not need to be inundated with stories revolving around individual gay couples looking to wed. There is only so much a gay person can say about same-sex marriages. At the same time, there is only so much the opposing side can say as well. After awhile the stories might get tedious.

When the article was published, it was just the beginning of same-sex marriage in San Francisco. Since that time, several more homosexual couples have married. However, providing information about how a gay couple could achieve this license would have been important to homosexuals interested in marrying, provided they live in that area. The article mentioned gay couples going to City Hall, but never addressed the steps they took to get to that point.

Possible follow-ups for the story could involve interviews with judges carrying out the ceremonies and why they feel the need to do so. Information on other cities attempting the same thing might also be a follow-up to consider. An interesting story to come from the San Francisco marriages would be is any local government employees were married. It would put a well-known face into the story, rather than the “average Joe.”

It is also important to recognize that with the presidential elections forthcoming, gay marriage will become a large topic of debate. Covering what presidential candidates and the White House have to say regarding gay marriage is important as well.

Overall, the USA Today does a good job providing what it needs to provide. It has followed the Hutchins Report, and also has many news elements present. The article offers fair and balanced coverage of a topic that is sure to be on the pages of newspapers for months to come.

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