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Back to the Future: Uses of History in Newspapers and Judicial Records on Marriage Equality
Unformatted Document Text:  histories than the newspapers. Also consistent with expectations, the Bay Area Reporter used history differently from the larger two newspapers. But surprisingly, given its target audience of gays and lesbians, the Reporter yielded the fewest number of articles in which history was used to discuss marriage equality for same-sex couples. One possible explanation is that the target demographic of the Reporter was expected to have a greater familiarity with marriage discourse or more support for extending marriage rights, and therefore history was not as necessary to contextualize or analogize the issue as it was in the larger newspapers. Another explanation could be that the smaller newspaper had fewer resources to devote to in-depth reporting. Less page space could also have limited the amount of coverage of marriage discourse, in light of other stories that might have been of particular interest to the gay and lesbian community in the Bay Area. This chapter includes further discussion of three themes that emerged from uses of history for context or placement and analogy or comparison during the trial, two themes in the judicial records, and four themes after the trial. N EWSPAPER C OVERAGE D URING THE T RIAL The themes that emerged from newspaper coverage during the trial relied primarily on the use of history for context or placement and reinforced: (1) a narrative of marriage as defined by the child- centered family, (2) a construction of marriage as a civil right indicating equal citizenship, and (3) a construction of gay and lesbian relationships in relation to heterosexual relationships. Marriage Defined by Children and Family. Anxiety over the relationship among marriage, family, and children emerged in newspaper coverage during the trial. Coverage reflected arguments in judicial records that marriage is fundamentally concerned with the nuclear, parent-offspring family unit. “[T]he institution of marriage is, and always has been, uniquely concerned with promoting and regulating naturally procreative relationships between men and women to provide for the nurture and upbringing of the next generation,” 82 read an editorial sidebar giving trial highlights. Marriage is thus defined by the production of children, effectively limiting marriage to heterosexual couples and conflating not only 13

Authors: Li, Anqi.
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histories than the newspapers. 
Also consistent with expectations, the Bay Area Reporter used history differently from the larger 
two newspapers. But surprisingly, given its target audience of gays and lesbians, the Reporter yielded the 
fewest number of articles in which history was used to discuss marriage equality for same-sex couples. 
One possible explanation is that the target demographic of the Reporter was expected to have a greater 
familiarity with marriage discourse or more support for extending marriage rights, and therefore history 
was not as necessary to contextualize or analogize the issue as it was in the larger newspapers. Another 
explanation could be that the smaller newspaper had fewer resources to devote to in-depth reporting. Less 
page space could also have limited the amount of coverage of marriage discourse, in light of other stories 
that might have been of particular interest to the gay and lesbian community in the Bay Area.
This chapter includes further discussion of three themes that emerged from uses of history for 
context or placement and analogy or comparison during the trial, two themes in the judicial records, and 
four themes after the trial. 
The themes that emerged from newspaper coverage during the trial relied primarily on the use of 
history for context or placement and reinforced: (1) a narrative of marriage as defined by the child-
centered family, (2) a construction of marriage as a civil right indicating equal citizenship, and (3) a 
construction of gay and lesbian relationships in relation to heterosexual relationships.
Marriage Defined by Children and Family.   Anxiety over the relationship among marriage, 
family, and children emerged in newspaper coverage during the trial. Coverage reflected arguments in 
judicial records that marriage is fundamentally concerned with the nuclear, parent-offspring family unit. 
“[T]he institution of marriage is, and always has been, uniquely concerned with promoting and regulating 
naturally procreative relationships between men and women to provide for the nurture and upbringing of 
the next generation,
 read an editorial sidebar giving trial highlights. Marriage is thus defined by the 
production of children, effectively limiting marriage to heterosexual couples and conflating not only 

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