Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Easily Offended in Galveston

"For me, this has been an eye-opening week. Not all our callers were unreasonable. Many were thoughtful and asked good questions. However, a surprising number were blindly, nastily and profanely hateful."
--Dolph Tillotson, president and publisher, Galveston County The Daily News

What unnerved and disappointed Mr. T. likely has played and will play out throughout most of the country. A staff photographer, Chad Greene, wrote a pleasant piece on the nominal marriage ceremony of two men, in a state that won't recognize it as marriage.

Let the reviling and recriminations begin!

Link Note: The original article and the follow-up editorial require a free registration process, with email confirmation for access.

Pix Note: At the moment, Greene serves up nice photos from the ceremony. You'll have to click over; he claims copyright on all of them.

Even in Texas and the 26 other states with laws and amendments specifically forbidding recognition of same-sex marriage, flames roar, fueled by homosexual love and commitment. In this case, the publisher reports "scores of angry phone calls criticizing the decision to publish the story. At last count several dozen readers had canceled their subscriptions."

So, you may well ask if the original article was about the likes of male prostitutes, drug addicts, or even drag queens or transsexuals. Instead, it was rather like the New York Times featured wedding of the week -- how they met, decided to move to Texas, Ernie (the chaplain) proposed in a redwood forest, the wedding eve family barbecue, the Walla Walla UCC minister returning the solemnization favor for Ernie doing her wedding...it short, it was colorful, personal and a bit sweet. It was much like other wedding stories.

The piece ran on the front of the lifestyle section. It brought atavistic responses that seem to belong to the worst of the early civil rights era. As Tillotson writes:
For me, this has been an eye-opening week...In the case of a few, I saw bigotry and unreasoning hatred that would make the Ku Klux Klan blush. Then they often told me I’d offended all good Christians.
Also, some "experts" claimed the ceremony was illegal (not so; Texas doesn't recognize SSM and the guys never tried to get a license). Others tried to get a rise from the publisher by writing that this article proved he was gay (not anyone's business, he responded).

He does not regret publishing the story. It had one personal side effect -- "It created a needed discussion, and answering my phone this week provided new insight into the frightening degree of hatred homosexuals face routinely. I now understand the need for hate crimes laws much better."

Sadly and reasonably, he also concluded that "I am sick at heart and shaken over the malice I’ve experienced this week, wave on wave, pure and hard as diamonds. Normally, we live in a peaceful corner of the world, and it’s rare here to see hate wearing no mask."

For those with the longer view, the future should be brighter, eventually. As we saw here with the now-60%-plus acceptance of SSM and in Maine in the plebiscite rejecting the recall of gay-rights law, enough who hate or fear eventually change to enable permanent tolerance and fairness.

Unquestionably, exposure to such pioneering couples as Ernie and David in Texas is a key factor. When your sibling, coworker or neighbor is openly gay, partnered or married, that can move from them being the other to being someone you know and like...and for whom you want fairness and equality.

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Ryan said...

Oh, you need to read some of the letters to the editors. Comedy Gold.

Here's one you just CAN'T miss.

"Newspaper Has Violated Its Christian Freedom

How offensive to your subscribers and to God regarding your Lifestyle coverage of the gay marriage (The Daily News, Nov. 19).

To what depths of carnage will your newspaper go in order to sell newspapers?

What message are you sending to our young people?

Truly, God has wept over this latest flagrant violation of all that He stands for. I know Christians of all denominations have.

As free press, you have such a mighty tool to promote Christianity.

You have truly violated that freedom and failed in your responsibility to the majority of your readers.

Janet Webb
Texas City"

Anonymous said...

It's hard to make good wedding photos, and these are quite fine. Importantly they demonstrate the friends, relatives and church of the Misters Aguilar are fully supportive of the commitment of the two men.