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Framing Public Discussion of Gay Civil Unions
Unformatted Document Text:  Framing Public Discussion 18 to the “civil union” version: [23:33] <Jason> Just remember Sodom and Gomorra. [23:33] <William> Marriage no. Domestic partnership, I suppose. But marriage is by definition between a man and a woman. It is both secular and religious. You can not change the definition of what it is anymore than redefining white as black. [23:34] <Jason> That’s true William. [23:34] <Mary> I agree with William. [23:34] <Alex> To me, personally, this is one of the knottiest problems in society today. I, too, think of the "laws of nature" but I recognize gays have talents and rights. I do not, however, believe in "marriage" Although the prompt made no mention of marriage per se, it becomes a major concern of this group, and also results in an immediate reference to Biblical imagery (the commonly invoked destruction of Sodom for sins against God). Similarly, before the follow-up question dealing with “equal rights” or “special rights” was entered by the moderator into the conversations, a large number of the groups spontaneously generated one or the other, or both of these concerns. Equality and rights. The above conversation also illustrates, in Alex’s final expression of ambivalence, the common concern over rights. An “equality” frame was less clearly identifiable in the discussions than the “morality” frame, but there is no question that a large number of the groups – particularly liberal groups – expressed concerns over equal treatment of conventionally married couples and those in long-term, same-sex partnerships. These comments were no less moral in tone, but they largely eschew explicitly religious terminology, focused on equality before the law regardless of sexual preference, and cited what is viewed as arbitrariness in defining one version of the family as the norm in a society that manifests myriad variations in household structure. Take the following liberal group (#37), responding to the “homosexual marriage” version of the initial question: [23:31] < Will > Homosexuals are citizens of the United States, they should have the same rights as all other citizens. Legalize it and move on. [23:32] < Joe > We’re probably moving closer to legalizing it, which is fine by me. [23:32] < Jack > It comes down to an issue of semantics. The term marriage is reserved for heterosexuals. People feel threatened when marriage is applied to gay relationships. Semantics aside, I think equal rights should apply to gay relationships no matter what you call it. [23:33] < Bob > I’m sorry that is one thing I can’t agree with at all, and I don’t think I’m bigoted, I just don’t

Authors: Price, Vincent., Nir, Lilach. and Cappella, Joseph.
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Framing Public Discussion
18
to the “civil union” version:
[23:33] <Jason> Just remember Sodom and Gomorra.
[23:33] <William> Marriage no. Domestic partnership, I suppose. But marriage is by definition between a man
and a woman. It is both secular and religious. You can not change the definition of what it is anymore
than redefining white as black.
[23:34] <Jason> That’s true William.
[23:34] <Mary> I agree with William.
[23:34] <Alex> To me, personally, this is one of the knottiest problems in society today. I, too, think of the
"laws of nature" but I recognize gays have talents and rights. I do not, however, believe in "marriage"
Although the prompt made no mention of marriage per se, it becomes a major concern of
this group, and also results in an immediate reference to Biblical imagery (the commonly invoked
destruction of Sodom for sins against God). Similarly, before the follow-up question dealing
with “equal rights” or “special rights” was entered by the moderator into the conversations, a
large number of the groups spontaneously generated one or the other, or both of these concerns.
Equality and rights. The above conversation also illustrates, in Alex’s final expression
of ambivalence, the common concern over rights. An “equality” frame was less clearly
identifiable in the discussions than the “morality” frame, but there is no question that a large
number of the groups – particularly liberal groups – expressed concerns over equal treatment of
conventionally married couples and those in long-term, same-sex partnerships. These comments
were no less moral in tone, but they largely eschew explicitly religious terminology, focused on
equality before the law regardless of sexual preference, and cited what is viewed as arbitrariness
in defining one version of the family as the norm in a society that manifests myriad variations in
household structure. Take the following liberal group (#37), responding to the “homosexual
marriage” version of the initial question:
[23:31] < Will > Homosexuals are citizens of the United States, they should have the same rights as all other
citizens. Legalize it and move on.
[23:32] < Joe > We’re probably moving closer to legalizing it, which is fine by me.
[23:32] < Jack > It comes down to an issue of semantics. The term marriage is reserved for heterosexuals.
People feel threatened when marriage is applied to gay relationships. Semantics aside, I think equal
rights should apply to gay relationships no matter what you call it.
[23:33] < Bob > I’m sorry that is one thing I can’t agree with at all, and I don’t think I’m bigoted, I just don’t


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