Hillary Clinton’s announcement this morning that she supports same-sex marriage, timed the week before oral arguments in two landmark cases on gay rights, help create a sense of certainty over where the country is headed. In my latest column in the print version of Variety, i write about how this bandwagon effect has helped marginalize the opposition. But has it made them free speech victims?
The complete column below:
Adding to the aura of inevitablity around same-sex marriage is the
presence of media companies taking a stand in what has been a culturally
divisive issue by signing on to an amicus brief calling for the repeal
of the federal Defense of Marriage Act as it comes before the Supreme
Court on March 27.
The Walt Disney Co., CBS Corp. and Viacom were among the names on the
list. Comcast this month announced it was contributing $1.5 million in
advertising time to a Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
It’s striking that a cultural wedge issue has shifted in public
opinion to such a degree that corporations, and media companies in
particular, don’t consider it too polarizing to touch, and are even
willing to take a strong position.
As Fred Sainz, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, points out,
only five companies dared to step up four years ago against Proposition
8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Now, with the Supreme Court
weighing the constitutionality of both the Defense of Marriage Act and
Prop 8, it’s like a bandwagon of hundreds has signed on, any
skittishness giving way to the benefits of being on the rights side of a
civil rights battle.
But that bandwagon feeling also has given fodder to those who would
limit the right to marry, who complain of being ridiculed and even
silenced in public debate, marginalized in a culture that points toward a
“Modern Family” family.