Gay marriage came to the nation’s capital this week, and the Washington Post has been fending off reader complaints for marking the occasion with a front page picture of two men kissing.
The above photo of Jeremy Ames, left, and Taka Ariga was taken last week when the District of Columbia began accepting applications for same-sex marriages, and ran on the newspaper’s front page and online March 4.
But according to Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander, the photo has drawn an unusual amount of criticism from readers.
Several readers wrote to suggest that a snapshot of two men kissing doesn’t belong in a family newspaper. One reader went so far as to say, “That kind of stuff makes normal people want to throw up.”
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At last count, the photo has caused 27 Post readers to cancel their subscriptions. But earlier this week, Alexander offered this unequivocal defense of the photo and its placement:
Did the Post go too far? Of course not. The photo deserved to be in newspaper and on its Web site, and it warranted front-page display.
News photos capture reality. And the prominent display reflects the historic significance of what was occurring. The recent D.C. Council decision to approve same-sex marriage was the culmination of a decades-long gay rights fight for equality. Same-sex marriage is now legal in the District. The photo of Ames and Ariga kissing simply showed joy that would be exhibited by any couple planning to wed – especially a couple who previously had been denied the legal right to marry.
There was a time, after court-ordered integration, when readers complained about front-page photos of blacks mixing with whites. Today, photo images of same-sex couples capture the same reality of societal change.
In other words… get over it!