06/27/2013 07:45 am ET Updated Aug 27, 2013

Gay Journalists' Visibility During Supreme Court Coverage A Sign Of A Changing Country

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The remarkable shift in how the United States views gay rights and gay people could be easily understood just by following the way the media covered the Supreme Court's historic rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 on Wednesday.

Just as LGBT people have become ever more visible in American society, so too were they all over the airwaves throughout the day.

If viewers turned to ABC in the morning, they could see Sam Champion, the openly gay -- and married -- "Good Morning America" host, talk about how good the ruling felt, and be embraced by his fellow anchors.

In the evening, they could find Diane Sawyer giving a hero's welcome to Edith Windsor, the 84-year-old who won the actual case at stake in the DOMA decision. Sawyer called her "remarkable."

On MSNBC, they would find Rachel Maddow and Thomas Roberts discussing the political and personal implications of the Court's decision along with another openly gay guest, New York mayoral candidate Christine Quinn.

"Three openly gay people discussing this on national television is itself a moment," Maddow said.

If they switched to CNN, they might have seen Don Lemon, who came out in 2011, gleefully bring his cameras into the iconic Stonewall bar in New York to get some regular peoples' reaction. "If you haven't been to a gay bar, I'm about to take you to one," Lemon said.

Later, they could watch an emotional conversation about what the ruling meant take place between three openly gay men: Anderson Cooper, the writer Andrew Sullivan and the gay marriage activist Evan Wolfson. Cooper talked about how "offensive" and "insulting" he had always found it when gay people couldn't say they were traveling with "family members" on customs forms because of American immigration law.

Even on Fox News, they could find Sally Kohn, the network's resident gay progressive pundit, battling it out with a guest on the opposite side of the spectrum.

The DOMA and Prop. 8 decisions came ten years to the day after the Court's last sweeping ruling in favor of gay rights, Lawrence vs. Texas. Ten years ago, viewers would have seen none of those things on their screens. The hosts and pundits were either not out of the closet or not on the air.

They would have also found a media landscape much more concerned with "balance" on the issue of gay rights than it is today. On Wednesday, the opponents of gay marriage were almost nowhere to be seen, either on the TV screen or the websites or the newspapers. The world has changed. Newspaper readers waking up Thursday in Chicago might see the front page of the RedEye tabloid: 'PROUDER.' In Philadelphia, the Daily News went with "LOVE SUPREME." In The Kansas City Star, it was "CLOSER TO EQUAL."

And readers in New York could turn to the New York Times, the country's paper of record, and see the jubilant face of Edith Windsor splashed across the front page.

"Court Follows Nation's Lead," a headline next to the photo said.



SCOTUS Decisions On Prop 8, Defense Of Marriage Act