Masters Thesis

An Analysis of the political discourse used by the proponents and opponents in the 2008 California Proposition 8 campaign

At the forefront of the American political debate today is the issue of same-sex marriage. The significance of this research is to analyze the political discourse used by the proponents and opponents in the 2008 State of California Proposition 8 or (California Marriage Protection Act) campaign. This paper utilizes Lakoff’s (2004) principles of debate framing to analyze the proponent and opponent’s sides to the 2008 Proposition 8 campaign. The Websites reviewed for this study were  www.protectmarriage.com in opposition to same-sex marriage, and  www.eqca.org in support of same-sex marriage. The discourse of the two Websites protectmarriage.com and eqca.org represented two very different perspectives on the same-sex marriage issue in California. The Protect Marriage Website billed itself as an organization that values the “traditional family” and is committed to providing a safe environment for children to grow up in, while the Equality California Website framed the issue in terms of “equality for all” and to be “tolerant” of all humans. The issue of choosing the correct discourse in the 2008 state of California same-sex marriage campaign was critical because the race was separated by an extremely small percentage of votes. As a result, carefully planned framing and proactive discourse ultimately led the opponents of same-sex marriage to prevail in the 2008 same-sex marriage campaign. Recommendations consist of reaching out to minorities, campaigning proactively by promoting positive campaigning strategies, and encouraging grassroots community volunteerism to generate media attention and allow volunteers to educate their own community on the issues.

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