Gay-Marriage Coverage: A Media Shutout?

Coverage of the issue may be overshadowing another important civil rights cause.

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Protesters outside Supreme Court in 2013 (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty); protesters at SCOTUS in 2012 (Mark Wilson/AFP/Getty Images)

(The Root) — Quick question: Who is the latest Democratic senator to come out in support of affirmative action?

OK, another question: Who is the latest Republican senator to come out in support of affirmative action?

How about this one: Do any Republican senators support affirmative action?

Last question: Do you know the answer to any of the above questions?

Chances are you don’t. Most of us don’t. But I bet you know that Republican Sen. Rob Portman now supports same-sex marriage, spurred by his love and compassion for his openly gay son. I bet you also know that 10 Democratic senators oppose gay marriage.

The reason you know both of these facts is that same-sex marriage has become the mainstream media’s civil rights cause célèbre — even though it ultimately affects just under 4 percent of the population. To be clear, this population deserves rights and protections regardless of how few of them there may be, but not at the expense of other groups.

Though I have sensed a disparity in civil rights coverage for months in print, online and on television, I only recently tried multiple online searches to see if I was being paranoid.

I wasn’t.

A search of “Affirmative action before the Supreme Court” produced just over 100 million results. (This number came up whether I tried including the year 2013 or used parentheses.) “Voting rights before the Supreme Court” netted more than 400 million results. But “Gay marriage before the Supreme Court” produced article after article after TV clip after TV clip, with just over 800 million results. “Same sex marriage before the Supreme Court” produced even more: just under 900 million results.

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