More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
GLAAD Applauds Media Coverage of Proposition 8 Ruling
As the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco announced its ruling, striking down the discriminatory Proposition 8 policy, media outlets around the world reported on this historic event. Though it only affects the law in California, the ruling has been cause for celebration among supporters of equality nationwide. Many individuals speaking to the media have expressed the hope that this decision foreshadows future judicial and legislative acts that will advance the movement toward marriage equality for same-sex couples.
The role of the media in covering this milestone ruling and increasing the general awareness of why the freedom to marry is important to all couples cannot be ignored. Media outlets have provided up-to-date coverage of pivotal court cases and legislative sessions, discussed poll results showing the ever-growing change in beliefs to favor marriage equality, elevated the opinions of qualified experts on why gay and lesbian people need the same protections as everyone else, and shared the stories of countless same-sex couples who have spoken with heartfelt honesty about the obstacles they face in a legal system that does not recognize their families as equal. This fair, accurate, and inclusive coverage is key to helping the broader population understand the struggles still facing LGBT people. It is also necessary that the beliefs of anti-gay activists posing as ‘experts’ on marriage and family not be treated as anything more than unfounded, irrational bias.
In the case of Tuesday’s decision on Proposition 8, the overall media coverage has been excellent at highlighting the facts, as well as the voices of those who understand that this ruling is a step towards making this country a land of freedom for all. The now unforgettable words of Judge Stephen Rienhardt as the ruling was made have been repeated throughout the media, wherein he said, “Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort.”
More important though, has been the media’s focus on those whose real, everyday lives would be affected by the repeal of Proposition 8. Spencer Perry, the 17-year-old son of Proposition 8 plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Steir, gave an impassioned speech at a celebration of the repeal, hosted by the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER). Spencer pointed out the negative message that Proposition 8 sent him and many other families in California, and how the repeal of this discriminatory law articulates the meaningfulness of their love in the eyes of the state. “When Proposition 8 doesn’t allow parents like mine to marry, it isn’t just defining their love as taboo or wrong,” Spencer said. “It says that our family – that my brothers, that my mothers – shouldn’t belong. And we don’t get to be the same as my friends’ families.” He added, “If anything, with this case, we can see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. All of the rallies, the marches, the speeches, have pushed us to a more equal society; and soon to be a more equal United States.”
GLAAD congratulates California on this important legal gain, and urges the media to continue sharing stories like Spencer’s and to report fairly and accurately on the movement toward marriage equality.