Why is the marriage debate so scary?

Shocked couple watching television

Of the many heavy-handed copy editing ticks employed over the years at the Washington Times, one of the most contentious was the use of scare quotes around the term "gay marriage." Actually, I think they used the term "homosexual marriage." One of the first acts former editor John Solomon performed when he took over two years ago was to tell the copy desk to knock off the quotation marks. But don't feel bad for the unused scare quotes. They're now getting new work -- on the opposite side of the marriage debate. No, really, check it out. Here's a portion of the Los Angeles Times story about the Supreme Court issuing a temporary injunction against the YouTube broadcasting of an upcoming trial on Proposition 8:

This is the second time in recent months in which the high court has intervened on behalf of the defenders of "traditional marriage" and granted an emergency appeal.

Ah, yes, defenders of "traditional marriage." Now, we generally suggest that reporters figure out a way to write copy that minimizes the use of scare quotes. But I just think this is hilarious. I can't really imagine the Los Angeles Times scare quoting "gay marriage."

I do think that reporter David Savage's lede is also interesting:

The U.S. Supreme Court, acting on an appeal from conservative defenders of California's ban on same-sex marriage, overruled a federal judge in San Francisco today and blocked video coverage of the trial on YouTube.

We learn nothing about these "conservative defenders" other than the name of one of the attorneys, but I wonder why the descriptor "conservative" was used. The opponents of the ban are not called "liberal challengers." Just challengers. Why is that? California is not a particularly conservative state, but a majority of those who voted on Proposition 8 supported it. And a majority of voters in all the 30-odd other states that have held referendums on this issue have also voted similarly. It just seems somewhat odd to use a label on one side of that debate, particularly when it's the popular side.

Anyway, this is going to be an interesting trial with lots of avenues for coverage. Please let us know if you see anything particularly good or bad out there.

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