On Wednesday, August 4, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that California's ban on same-sex marriages, otherwise known as Proposition 8, was unconstitutional. This marked the first time a U.S. judge had made such a declaration under federal rather than state law.
Online, the ruling prompted a blizzard of commentary among bloggers, who overwhelmingly cheered the news. It also demonstrated how people coalesced around a single issue can create a significant and influential voice in social media.
For the week of August 2-6, more than a quarter (27%) of the news links on blogs were about the same-sex marriage ruling, according to the New Media Index produced by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.
Most bloggers commenting on the story celebrated the decision as a victory for equal rights, and some made personal connections to their own lives. A few voices, however, objected to the ruling, often arguing that it was unfairly overturning the will of the people of California.
The issue of gay rights has been a frequent subject of discussion in the blogosphere as measured by PEJ's Index. For example, the week of March 1-5, the issue of gay rights and the Catholic Church was the top story, representing 16% of the news links in blogs studied. The month before, February 1-5, gay rights issues, including the military's policy of "don't ask, don't tell," were also a major subject of discussion finishing third with 13%. Overall, last week marks the seventh time the subject finished in the top five since PEJ began its New Media Index in January 2009.
Read the full report, A Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage Galvanizes Bloggers on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.