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Iowa wedding announcement stirs controversy for Indiana newspaper

Friday, July 17, 2009
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wedding.cake.2The local newspaper in Elkhart, Indiana landed in the center of the same-sex marriage debate this week when it published an Iowa couple’s marriage announcement.

Michael Berkey and James Chapin, both of Hanlontown, IA were featured in the newpaper’s July 12 engagement section because Berkey is a graduate of the local high school and his parents still reside in the community. Their wedding is planned for later this month.

And so the backlash began — within days, the announcement became fodder for local radio stations, and (as reported by Bill Browning at the Bilerico Project) prompted the American Family Association of Indiana, to email an alert to its members, suggesting that the paper would also soon print “anniversary announcements for polygamous marriages” and “incestuous birth announcements.”

Kudos to the Eckert Truth, whose editorial board defended it’s decision, and addressed the controversy head-on in its own pages…

…Same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa, where the couple lives and plans to marry. Since one of the young men is originally from Elkhart and his family still lives here, we did the same thing we’d do for any other local family with a child getting married — we published the couple’s engagement announcement.

We fulfilled our role as a paper of record. We documented an engagement, something we do hundreds of times each year.

Protesters asked why we would publish a story about something illegal in Indiana. Basically, it’s because an informed citizenry, a citizenry capable of thinking for itself, needs uncensored news from a variety of sources. That includes states and nations where the law does not conform to Indiana’s.

Some of you might remember that local papers in Kansas City and Independence, MO took the opposite stand last month when a local couple submitted their announcement after crossing the border to marry in IA.  (We’re told at least one newspaper there has since changed its policy.)

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