An analysis of major newspaper editorials published in response to the California Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a ban on same-sex marriages shows that the editorials opposed the ruling by a 7-4 margin.
The analysis, provided by the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy (iMAPP) in a research brief, examined twenty of the highest-circulation newspapers in the United States. Twelve of the twenty published editorial reactions to the California court’s decision.
Of these twelve editorials, seven were opposed to the decision while only four were in favor. One major paper published both favorable and opposed views, focusing on the Florida marriage amendment.
“Given that major newspapers are located in metropolitan areas and are historically liberal, this response is striking,” iMAPP said. The editorials opposed to the decision, often voiced fears that “the undemocratic imposition of same-sex marriage will spark a ‘culture war’ similar to that sparked by Roe v. Wade’s overturning of abortion laws, and that the gay rights movement would be better served by trusting the democratic process and the rapid change in opinions among their fellow citizens,” according to iMAPP.
Joshua K. Baker, Legal Analyst for iMAPP told CNA that the editorial’s stance was unexpected. “I think [it] is significant and somewhat surprising. It suggests that much of the nation is still looking for a compromise, and isn't willing to have a handful of judges making social policy for the nation."
When asked why the predominately liberal papers printed negative editorials regarding the ruling, Baker replied, that in addition to igniting a culture war, “several papers expressed concern about a voter backlash, suggesting that the court ruling might actually defeat its own purposes by lending new energy to supporters of the constitutional amendment effort already underway in California."
The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Boston Globe editorials all supported the California Supreme Court’s decision to instate same-sex marriage. Editorials in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Dallas Morning News and the Cleveland Plain Dealer all opposed the decision.