On Wednesday and Thursday, the journalists at ABC continued to treat the gay marriage issue as though there was only one acceptable side. Diane Sawyer and Terry Moran framed the case before the Supreme Court as simply "one American seeking justice" and gave almost no time to the opposition. On the March 27 World News, Sawyer used loaded language as she hyped, "Edith Windsor received a hero's welcome when she emerged from the Supreme Court, saying it's time to take a stand for marriage equality."
Windsor is an 83-year-old lesbian who is petitioning the high court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Journalist Moran seemed to dismiss principled opposition to gay marriage as he insisted, "Sometimes, the big cases come to the Supreme Court out of conflicts between the states or battles between the branches of government and sometimes one American walks up these steps seeking justice." He added, "That's what's happening today." Sawyer could barely contain herself as she enthused, "Tonight, the fighter...Her case challenges the justices and rallies the crowd on marriage in America." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
On World News and Thursday's Good Morning America, Moran allowed just 14 seconds per segment of opposition to gay marriage. The rest of the stories were devoted to playing up emotional details about Ms. Windsor. On GMA, Moran referred to the elderly woman as a "folk hero to countless young Americans." He praised the case as "an issue which comes to [the court] in part out of the life and love of one remarkable American woman."
Earlier this week, Moran found no time to feature the thousands who marched for traditional marriage on Tuesday.
CBS This Morning only briefly covered the case on Thursday. Regarding federal the federal benefits gays don't have because of DOMA, Charlie Rose reminded, "If it's struck down, it may not be a financial windfall for same-sex couples." Lower taxes aren't something liberals at CBS are generally concerned with.
On the NBC Nightly News, Pete Williams predicted DOMA's demise: "It does appear that at least five of them are prepared to say DOMA is unconstitutional and strike it down." He also highlighted Ms. Windsor, but not to the degree ABC did.
A transcript of the March 28 GMA segment can be found below:
ABC GRAPHIC: Justices Weigh in on Same-Sex marriage: Cast Doubt on U.S. Law Defining Marriage
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Now to the Supreme Court and those emotional arguments over gay marriage. At issue yesterday, the federal law which defines marriage as a union between a man and woman. At the heart of the case, an 83-year-old pioneer. Our Supreme Court expert, Nightline's Terry Moran, is here with her story and what to expect from the court. Good morning, Terry.
TERRY MORAN: Good morning, George. All quiet here today. No protesters, no arguments but the justices are at work getting ready for their big weekly conference, one of the most secret meetings in Washington. Only nine of them, that will be tomorrow morning. They'll take their first votes on the issue of same-sex marriage and the Constitution and an issue which comes to them in part out of the life and love of one remarkable American woman.
CROWD CHANTING: Edie! Edie!
MORAN: This morning, Edie Windsor is celebrating after having her day in court and what a day it was. This 83-year-old woman has become a kind of folk hero to countless young Americans.
EDIE WINDSOR: I'm talking to you freely. You know, I'd have been hiding in the closet ten years ago.
MORAN: Her case arises from the love of her life, Thea Spire, they spent 44 years together, finally marrying in 2007. But after Thea died in 2009, Edie was suddenly hit with $363,000 in estate taxes, taxes no straight widow would have to pay because the federal government refused to recognize their marriage under the Defense of Marriage Act. In court, Justice Ruth Ginsberg said it seemed like a second class system for gay couples.
RUTH BADER GINSBURG: Two kinds of marriages, the full marriage and then this sort of skim milk marriage.
MORAN: That comment struck a cord on social media becoming a popular Twitter hashtag but for millions of Americans it's no laughing matter. Same-sex marriage is about bedrock beliefs.
UNIDENTIFIED AFRICAN AMERICAN MINISTER: We're not motivated by bigotry. We just believe that when the God of the Bible created the institution, he defined it, and I really believe that he got it right.
MORAN: Edie Windsor and Thea Spire were actually engaged way back in 1967. But Edie told Thea she wouldn't be able to wear a ring because all of her colleagues at IBM would say who's the guy? So she got a diamond broach which she was wearing in that court yesterday.
ROBIN ROBERTS: What a story. What a story.