Robert Knight

The major media are soft-selling the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Wednesday decision ordering "gay marriage" or its equivalent, lest the ruling become a fire bell in the night for social conservatives two weeks before the election.

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric gave the story 21 seconds, talking about "committed same-sex couples" over footage of a cute lesbian couple with cute children, and two distinguished-looking older men standing on a woodsy balcony.

Important questions were left unasked: What gives the court the authority to order legislators to change the law? What if the legislators don't do so? And, what about those recent court decisions upholding marriage laws in New York, California, Washington and Georgia? NBC Nightly News devoted all of 26 seconds, deep into the broadcast. Brian Williams ceded the judges' apparent authoritarian power, saying: "The court ruled that same-sex couples in the state must be given all of the same legal protections that heterosexual couples get, and now it is up to the state legislature to make that happen, either by changing marriage laws or by creating another system like civil unions."

ABC Legal Correspondent Jan Crawford Greenberg openly lamented that the court did not go far enough, but concluded that "it’s up to the legislature to decide. The state can take one of two tracks."

Greenberg explained: "Well, the court really split the difference here. Proponents had argued from the beginning that this case was about one thing – the right to marry, and they fell short of that. Instead, they got the rights and benefits of marriage, and opponents said they shouldn't get even that."

Note the phrase "even that." This implies that people who believe that real marriage should be uniquely protected in the law are heartless. Her tone was of sad resignation that some could be so cruel.

ABC's World News, which led with a story on the "landmark" ruling, was the only network news show to offer fuller coverage, devoting 4 minutes, 30 seconds. Anchor Charles Gibson and political analyst George Stephanopoulos noted that the decision could affect key Senate races in New Jersey, Tennessee and especially Virginia. The latter two states have marriage amendments on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.