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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gay Wedding Sparks Outrage in Mississippi

Much to your Head Trucker's astonishment and delight, the hard rock of homophobia is nowadays slowly being chipped away, even in the most surprising places - like small towns in the Deep South.

Two gals got hitched over in Laurel, Mississippi, a couple of weeks ago, complete with bridal gown, wedding cake, and an exchange of vows in front of family and friends. Of course, this kind of commitment ceremony - completely unrecognized by state law - has happened thousands of times all across the nation and the South in the last forty years, and maybe you've even attended some of them. But this time something was different: the local paper printed the story on the front page, along with a big picture of the happy couple, and a bolded quote that "love is love, it knows no gender."

Hoo-wee, did that stir up a wasp's nest of angry calls to the editor of the Laurel Leader-Call, who responded this week with an editorial justifying the paper's decision to run the story. Excerpt:
We knew going in that the gay wedding story was going to ruffle some feathers. We were well aware that the majority of people in Jones County are not in favor of gay marriage. However, any decent newspaper with a backbone can not base decisions on whether to cover a story based on whether the story will make people angry.

The job of a community newspaper is not pretending something didn't take place or ignoring it because it will upset people. No, our job is to inform readers what is going on in our town and let them make their own judgements. That is exactly what we did with the wedding story. Our reporter heard about the wedding, attended it, interviewed some of the participants and wrote a news story. If there had been protestors at the wedding, we would have covered that the exact same way . . . but there weren't any. We never said it was a good thing or a bad thing, we simply did our job by telling people what took place. . . .

We have stories about child molesters, murders and all kinds of vicious, barbaric acts of evil committed by heinous criminals on our front page and yet we never receive a call from anyone saying "I don't need my children reading this." Never. Ever. However, a story about two women exchanging marriage vows and we get swamped with people worried about their children.

Read the full editorial here.

Kudos to the courageous editor. And I hope the women and their daughter stay safe.

PS - In your Head Trucker's view, the editor's only mistake was running the story under a huge, all-caps headline. It's not like commitment ceremonies have never happened in Mississippi before (and probably even in Laurel).

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