Yesterday I pointed out the Los Angeles Times' rather incomplete survey of "liberal and conservative congregations" on the issue of same-sex marriage. Seventy-five percent of the religious figures who took a position in the article were exuberant about the recent California Supreme Court ruling redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. This week the Washington Post/Newsweek "On Faith" religion opinion site posed the following questions:
The California Supreme Court has overturned that state's ban on gay marriage. Is marriage a legal right or a sacred rite? Should the state be involved in marriage? Should religious institutions?
Some of the 16 responses from panelists are interesting, informative and engage the question. But what struck me was that only four of the responses were critical of redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. Is this further confirmation that in the world of mainstream media, 75 percent of religious adherents have no regard for the traditional Christian, Jewish and Muslim view of marriage? I know that the Washington Post/Newsweek site is an opinion site but that's just bad journalism.
It's fine to read the views of Starhawk, Deepak Chopra, and Bishop John Bryson Chane, among others, but when moderator Sally Quinn asks questions that seem to be on the level of 8th-grade home room discussions, the debate isn't exactly riveting:
Homosexual couples are simply two people who love each other. Please explain to me how that can be wrong in the eyes of God.
Tmatt reminded me of former New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent's words on the matter in 2004:
(For) those who also believe the news pages cannot retain their credibility unless all aspects of an issue are subject to robust examination, it's disappointing to see The Times present the social and cultural aspects of same-sex marriage in a tone that approaches cheerleading. So far this year, front-page headlines have told me that "For Children of Gays, Marriage Brings Joy," (March 19, 2004); that the family of "Two Fathers, With One Happy to Stay at Home," (Jan. 12, 2004) is a new archetype; and that "Gay Couples Seek Unions in God's Eyes," (Jan. 30, 2004). I've learned where gay couples go to celebrate their marriages; I've met gay couples picking out bridal dresses; I've been introduced to couples who have been together for decades and have now sanctified their vows in Canada, couples who have successfully integrated the world of competitive ballroom dancing, couples whose lives are the platonic model of suburban stability.
Every one of these articles was perfectly legitimate. Cumulatively, though, they would make a very effective ad campaign for the gay marriage cause. You wouldn't even need the articles: run the headlines over the invariably sunny pictures of invariably happy people that ran with most of these pieces, and you'd have the makings of a life insurance commercial.
This implicit advocacy is underscored by what hasn't appeared. Apart from one excursion into the legal ramifications of custody battles ("Split Gay Couples Face Custody Hurdles," by Adam Liptak and Pam Belluck, March 24), potentially nettlesome effects of gay marriage have been virtually absent from The Times since the issue exploded last winter.
But back to the Washington Post/Newsweek forum: In addition to the interesting and valid discussions being conducted by pagans, moderate Baptists, progressive Catholics and United Church of Christ clergy, that site would be an excellent place for a thorough discussion of Christianity's (and Judaism's and Islam's) historic teaching on marriage. There is so much there to discuss that is interesting.
I'm sure Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham know a couple of Roman Catholics who can defend the church's teaching on marriage. Why is it that when a big same-sex marriage story happens, the media in general can't seem to find articulate defenders of traditional marriage to talk to even though the majority of the country is with them?
Photo by Flickr user arimoore used under a Creative Commons license.