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Framing Public Discussion of Gay Civil Unions
Unformatted Document Text:  Framing Public Discussion 20 groups (with a fifth offering a slight movie twist on the same slogan: “It’s Harry and Sally, not Harry and Harry”). Drawing from personal experience. As participants debated the issue, a number of drew from personal experience – or, at least, purported experience – in arguing their positions. One example comes from a liberal group (#24) responding to the “equal rights” question: [21:38] <George> I really dislike the label "special rights" that so many people place on the gay attempt to simply maintain the same rights as everyone else. [21:39] <James> These rights are not equal. My son works for United Airlines. They recognize a civil union of six months and provide benefits to such a union. If my son lived with a woman for six months they would not recognize this union and provide the same benefits. [21:39] <Charles> George, I agree. [21:40] <Charles> We don’t have to model our laws after United Airlines, though. [21:40] <George> Then United is wrong! But don’t most companies that offer gay couples benefits also offer unmarried heterosexual people the same? IBM, Microsoft, etc? Although no mention was made in the prompt of “special rights,” George – a supporter of civil unions – recognizes that frame in his comment, and rejects it. James, seeking to defend the notion of “special rights,” offers his son’s company as a supporting example. The range of personal experiences brought to bear on the issue, across the full set of groups, was considerable: [19:33] <Bonnie> My sister & 84 yr old mother live together... why shouldn’t they have the same ’right’ so Mom could be on her insurance? (Conservative group #8, “homosexual marriage” frame) [20:39] <Bob> I dated a girl for 15 years without marriage, and was just like marriage (Heterogeneous group #30, “homosexual marriage” frame) [23:35] <Emily> There's so much more at stake than just the legalizing of the partnerships. There's the whole subject of teaching alternative lifestyles. A friend's son came home from school last week talking about what he learned--he's in Kindergarten. (Heterogeneous group 27, “civil union” frame) [16:37] <Jane> Right...what does sex have to do with benefits... I have friends that have lived together 15 yrs and should not have to marry just for benefits. (Liberal group #19, “homosexual marriage” frame) Juggling alternative frames. As illustrated by several of the exchanges above, the issue elicited diverse reactions. Although the explicit give-and-take between opposing frames was most apparent in heterogeneous groups, many of the ideologically homogeneous groups also engaged in lively debate. Participants who voiced the biblical view on same-sex relationship

Authors: Price, Vincent., Nir, Lilach. and Cappella, Joseph.
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Framing Public Discussion
20
groups (with a fifth offering a slight movie twist on the same slogan: “It’s Harry and Sally, not
Harry and Harry”).
Drawing from personal experience. As participants debated the issue, a number of drew
from personal experience – or, at least, purported experience – in arguing their positions. One
example comes from a liberal group (#24) responding to the “equal rights” question:
[21:38] <George> I really dislike the label "special rights" that so many people place on the gay attempt to
simply maintain the same rights as everyone else.
[21:39] <James> These rights are not equal. My son works for United Airlines. They recognize a civil union
of six months and provide benefits to such a union. If my son lived with a woman for six months they
would not recognize this union and provide the same benefits.
[21:39] <Charles> George, I agree.
[21:40] <Charles> We don’t have to model our laws after United Airlines, though.
[21:40] <George> Then United is wrong! But don’t most companies that offer gay couples benefits also offer
unmarried heterosexual people the same? IBM, Microsoft, etc?
Although no mention was made in the prompt of “special rights,” George – a supporter of civil
unions – recognizes that frame in his comment, and rejects it. James, seeking to defend the
notion of “special rights,” offers his son’s company as a supporting example. The range of
personal experiences brought to bear on the issue, across the full set of groups, was considerable:
[19:33] <Bonnie> My sister & 84 yr old mother live together... why shouldn’t they have the same ’right’ so
Mom could be on her insurance? (Conservative group #8, “homosexual marriage” frame)

[20:39] <Bob> I dated a girl for 15 years without marriage, and was just like marriage (Heterogeneous group
#30, “homosexual marriage” frame)

[23:35] <Emily> There's so much more at stake than just the legalizing of the partnerships. There's the whole
subject of teaching alternative lifestyles. A friend's son came home from school last week talking
about what he learned--he's in Kindergarten. (Heterogeneous group 27, “civil union” frame)

[16:37] <Jane> Right...what does sex have to do with benefits... I have friends that have lived together 15 yrs
and should not have to marry just for benefits. (Liberal group #19, “homosexual marriage” frame)
Juggling alternative frames. As illustrated by several of the exchanges above, the issue
elicited diverse reactions. Although the explicit give-and-take between opposing frames was
most apparent in heterogeneous groups, many of the ideologically homogeneous groups also
engaged in lively debate. Participants who voiced the biblical view on same-sex relationship


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