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CNN’s Two Sides: Gay Marriage vs. ‘Zealots and Hillbillies’ in Alabama

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By Bryan Ballas – BarbWire guest contributor

What was supposed to be a report on a constitutional battle in Alabama by CNN’s Elliott C. McLaughlin quickly transformed into what can only be described as gushing celebration of a triumph over traditional marriage advocates who are stuck living in the past.

McLaughlin began his piece on CNN.com with the story of a father of a gay man calling his son’s wedding “disgusting.”  He then pours contempt on the father as if he were a Klansman saying, “Disgusting, a word one might use to describe child molesters or a dead opossum in the road, was being applied to a couple of seven years exchanging vows that they’d love and cherish each other forever.”

Despite its resistance to the homosexual lobby, which has conquered 37 states, McLaughlin notes that gay marriage “is creeping into the South, where opposition is its staunchest. North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida have all accepted same-sex marriage in recent months.”

That’s a very broad use of the term “accepted,” considering North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida had voter approved constitutional bans on same-sex marriage that were forcibly overruled by the courts. In fact, 70 percent of the states that recognize same sex marriage were forced to do so by Court decisions rather than the will of the people and their representatives. If this is what McLaughlin considers  “acceptance” of same-sex marriage he must mean the states are laying down and accepting it.

McLaughlin accounts for the South’s staunch resistance to the homosexual movement by noting that “Jokes abound that the South is filled with zealots and hillbillies stuck in eras bygone, and while those barbs go too far, it’s true that Southern states hold religion and conservatism dear on myriad issues.”

As if he hasn’t abandoned all pretense of objectivity by this point, McLaughlin refers to the marriage of two lesbians as a “hasty and happy decision,” and sums up the their path to marriage as follows: “Told most of their lives being gay is abhorrent to God, Carmichael and Miller seek God’s blessing before uniting with one another as many in Alabama use God’s word to cast what Carmichael and Miller feel in their hearts as sin.”

Conveniently, the investigative journalist McLaughlin did not see fit to interview any men of the cloth to provide theological insight on the matter.

To his credit, McLaughlin does give attention to the conservative arguments against gay marriage, particularly Judge Roy Moore’s contention that sexual lifestyles can change and should not be treated like racial identities worthy of minority protection. However, he is also quick to paint Moore as an obstructionist ideologue by noting Moore “lost his chief justice post in 2003 for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a state building.”

McLaughlin concludes his piece with a quote from a newly married gay couple commenting on their marriage, “‘it’s good that the state recognizes it now,’ he said. ‘The sheet of paper’s nice, but we didn’t need it to validate our love.’”

If only there was a journalist covering this story rather than a man with an agenda trying to frame it debate as a showdown in which the headline is “Past and present clash over same-sex marriage in Deep South.” If such a journalist were on site, he might be inclined to ask why it is necessary to impose gay marriage on a state via court order if gays don’t need it to “validate [their] love.”

Bryan Ballas is a News Analysis Division intern at the Media Research Center.

First published at NewsBusters.org

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