“Love has won!” was the headline of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on gay marriage in the American, German and alternative Russian medias. This historic event also drew very different reactions from other sources around the globe, further fueling debates on gay rights and same-sex marriages in the observed countries.
The American society was split in this issue. On one hand, the majority appeard to support gay marriage. But on the other hand, conservatives often saw their rights endangered. This split in society was also covered in the media. The Wall Street Journal published diverse opinions on both sides of the issue. The New York Times focused more on the positive reactions. American alternative media Vice News critically covered the conservative backlash to the ruling and published a roundup of extreme quotes from opponents to the ruling:
Ted Cruz to Hannity on Gay Marriage Ruling – “Today is Darkest 24 Hours in Our Nation’s History”
Radio host Bryan Fischer – “Rainbow Jihadists of SCOTUS Blow Up Twin Towers of Truth and Righteousness”
With the legalization of gay marriage, the U.S. can be seen as the country with the most open legislation towards homosexual couples. Russia can be recognized as the other extreme due to legislation on “homosexual propaganda” significantly restricting the rights of homosexual couples. Unsurprisingly, the official Russian state media supported the anti-homosexual position. For example, Vesti.ru posted a statement from the Russian Orthodox Church:
“The US imposes unnatural view on the same-sex marriages to the other countries“
However, Russian official media was also open to some surprising statements. Vesti journalist Dmitry Kiselev, previously known for statements like “we need to take the hearts of gay people and burn them,” surprisingly said:
“If to be serious in Russia we should discuss this topic from time to time, because LGBT community is a fact. And we can think how to simplify life for mature people in case if they want to take care of each other and commit it on paper. In the end, love works wonders, who could be against it?”
In alternative media, a very popular joke circulated after the legalization: “745 American flags have been burnt down (after the legalization), but not a single passport with an American visa.”
Between the two extreme positions, we found the observed EU countries – Germany, Estonia and Lithuania. In all three of the countries, there was debate about gay rights and marriage. This debate heated up after Irish referendum on gay marriage and become reignited by the Supreme Court decision. The German online news portal spiegel.de published an article entitled
“Gay marriage: role model USA, moral coward Germany!“
that sharply criticized the German government for preventing marriage and equality for homosexual couples in Germany. No matter which source we looked at, virtually every reaction was positive. The only concern mentioned was that American anti-homosexual lobbyists could somehow attempt to repeal the ruling.
In the prevailingly Catholic Lithuania, we observed different reactions – but generally positive. Mention was made of the idea to legalize same-sex marriage in the European Union. The Catholic-American Church was also quoted:
“The US Bishops: decision about the same sex marriage – a tragic mistake“ (15min.lt/Lithuania)
Estonian media seemed the least interested in the case – although there was debate after the passing of Estonia’s Civil Partnership Law last autumn. However, the only opinion article published in Postimees referred to the topic as being “good for business.”
„Ex CEO of British Petroleum: giving more rights to LGBT minorities is good for business“
We did not observe such a unique perspective in other countries focused on the overall righteousness of the decision.
What is to be concluded?
The Supreme Court decision was a spectacular event for media in our observed countries. Reactions in European media were almost entirely positive. Russia and the U.S. seemed to be more split on the topic in representation of the more extreme positions. The anti-homosexual lobby also had a significant share of media coverage, with ultra-conservatives in the U.S. and the Orthodox Church in Russia.