Toronto Metropolitan University
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The Role of Canadian National Print Media in Fostering Positive Public Opinion Towards the Legislation of Same-Sex Marriage in Canada

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posted on 2023-05-01, 15:02 authored by Amanda Piche
Since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms emerged in 1982, Canadian national print news was central to the complex networks in the establishment of same-sex marriage in 2005. Newspapers framed marriage equality as a human rights’ issue, within conventions for balance and objectivity. However, LGBTQrelated issues have not consistently been approached this way by the media, which have traditionally created and regulated boundaries of gender and sexuality (Rubin 2007). This dissertation explores why Canadian mainstream press oscillated between anti-queer and pro-LGBTQ approaches in a post-Charter Canada and its effect on public opinion.
I show how news reporting is symbiotically implicated in Canadian public perspectives through public sphere theory (Habermas 1989; Fraser 1992). Frame analysis demonstrates how the issue was ideologically positioned in print (Goffman, 1974; Entman 1993; McCombs 2004; Scheufele 1999, 2000).
A content analysis of over 2,000 national newspaper articles published between 1982 and 2005 reveal the frames used in stories about marriage equality. Semi-structured interviews with journalists and activists contextualize the analysis. Responses determine how media frames may have implicated understanding and support of the issue, and why and how certain frames were decided by journalists.
This work informs the history of LGBTQ rights in Canada by exploring how the national news industry contributed to the framing of marriage equality. Analyses of news coverage of marriage equality remains largely US-centric (Brewer 2002 & 2003; Tadlock, et. al, 2007; Liebler et al., 2009; Li and Liu, 2010; Pan et al. 2010). Research on framing marriage equality in Canada focuses on litigants (Smith 2007), courts (Matthews 2005), and newspapers in 2003 and 2004 (Bannerman 2012). Despite several studies concerning the politics of sexual diversity in Canada (Hogg 2006; Kinsman 1996; Kinsman and Gentile 2010; Pettinicchio 2010; Rayside 2008; M. Smith 2008, 2012), marriage equality has not been studied extensively.





  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • Dissertation