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Back to the Future: Uses of History in Newspapers and Judicial Records on Marriage Equality

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Abstract:

In 2008, California voters amended the state constitution to limit marriage to heterosexual couples by passing Proposition 8. Federal district Judge Vaughn Walker declared the marriage ban unconstitutional on August 4, 2010, in Perry v. Schwarzenegger.

The Perry case helped foreground the issue of marriage equality. Research suggests newspapers and courts sometimes draw on history to explain issues and bolster arguments. This paper assesses some of the ways in which three newspapers and three judicial records marshaled history to discuss marriage equality during and after the Perry trial (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2010); how those uses reflected or challenged notions of marriage; and whether judicial uses of history were contradictory to or consistent with newspapers’ uses.

The history marshaled by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Bay Area Reporter, and by the Perry decision, Plaintiff-Intervenor-Appellee Response Brief, and Defendant-Intervenors’ Trial Memorandum, typically favored same-sex couples’ inclusion in marriage. During the trial, newspapers used history to highlight the social significance of marriage and to explore same-sex couples’ qualifications to participate in marriage. Coverage thus focused on “marriage.” After the trial, newspapers used history to construct how society has grappled with marriage in the public forum. Coverage after the trial, then, dealt with “marriage discourse.”

The narratives of marriage history in the newspaper coverage and judicial records challenged accepted memories of what marriage has been. Historical comparisons of public opinion and of political events and climate suggested what marriage could or should be in the future.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

marriag (255), histori (143), sex (108), same-sex (96), use (94), newspap (94), time (89), coupl (86), gay (79), see (71), note (66), right (64), supra (60), public (57), equal (55), state (54), trial (51), court (49), discours (48), perri (46), support (45),
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Association:
Name: Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
URL:
http://www.aejmc.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p519183_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Li, Anqi. "Back to the Future: Uses of History in Newspapers and Judicial Records on Marriage Equality" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Renaissance Grand & Suites Hotel, St. Louis, MO, Aug 10, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p519183_index.html>

APA Citation:

Li, A. , 2011-08-10 "Back to the Future: Uses of History in Newspapers and Judicial Records on Marriage Equality" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Renaissance Grand & Suites Hotel, St. Louis, MO Online <PDF>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p519183_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: In 2008, California voters amended the state constitution to limit marriage to heterosexual couples by passing Proposition 8. Federal district Judge Vaughn Walker declared the marriage ban unconstitutional on August 4, 2010, in Perry v. Schwarzenegger.

The Perry case helped foreground the issue of marriage equality. Research suggests newspapers and courts sometimes draw on history to explain issues and bolster arguments. This paper assesses some of the ways in which three newspapers and three judicial records marshaled history to discuss marriage equality during and after the Perry trial (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2010); how those uses reflected or challenged notions of marriage; and whether judicial uses of history were contradictory to or consistent with newspapers’ uses.

The history marshaled by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Bay Area Reporter, and by the Perry decision, Plaintiff-Intervenor-Appellee Response Brief, and Defendant-Intervenors’ Trial Memorandum, typically favored same-sex couples’ inclusion in marriage. During the trial, newspapers used history to highlight the social significance of marriage and to explore same-sex couples’ qualifications to participate in marriage. Coverage thus focused on “marriage.” After the trial, newspapers used history to construct how society has grappled with marriage in the public forum. Coverage after the trial, then, dealt with “marriage discourse.”

The narratives of marriage history in the newspaper coverage and judicial records challenged accepted memories of what marriage has been. Historical comparisons of public opinion and of political events and climate suggested what marriage could or should be in the future.


Similar Titles:
Framing the Issue of Same-Sex Marriages: Traditional Values vs. Equal Rights

The Concept of Equal Rights in Public Debate about Same-Sex Marriage

Framing the Issue of Same-Sex Marriage: Traditional Values versus Equal Rights

Shaping the Same Sex Marriage Discussion: Mass Media, Government Action, Social Demographic Factors, and Public Opinion in the 50 States


 
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