Our daughter picked up the newspaper and scanned the page again.
“What?” she asked, quickly growing tired of the pop quiz that her pop had thrown her way, which is to be expected from a 14-year-old stealing away a few minutes from her schoolwork (and the seemingly never-ending conversation with her classmates via text).
“I don’t get it,” she said. “What’s the big deal?
“Well,” I said, hesitating to give away the purpose of puzzling her, “they’re getting married.”
And with that, I had my answer — the same one I’d essentially given to an angry reader just a few days earlier. The anonymous caller had loudly lodged a complaint over a photograph published earlier this month on our community page, which accompanied an announcement of a couple’s wedding.
As far as controversial topics go, the community page isn’t typically the source of such a heated response.
“Why on earth would you run a photo of two men getting married?” the caller complained, continuing to shout about my apparent lack of morality for allowing a same-sex couple’s photograph to be seen in The Union. “Fifty-two percent of California voters were against this, but some activist judge decided to shove his morals down our throats!
“And now our newspaper is shoving its morals down our throats!”
After waiting out the shouts, I was finally able to offer an answer. We published the piece because, as the newspaper of record in our community, we have a responsibility to report what happens here. It has nothing to do with the moral beliefs of anyone at The Union.
In June, the United States Supreme Court dismissed arguments on Proposition 8, which determined “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” and struck down a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling legally married same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as all other married couples.
And with the California Supreme Court two weeks ago refusing a “stay” on Prop. 8, first ruled unconstitutional in 2010, the last legal challenge on the matter came to an end.
“I know it’s legal now,” our caller stated, “but that doesn’t mean you have to put it in the paper; and printing the announcement is one thing, but you didn’t have to print the photo!”
Of course, the reader was right. Ultimately, we didn’t have to publish the photograph. Yet, if we didn’t, would we not be guilty of the exact same complaint the caller had dialed us up to deliver? Would we not then be “shoving the morals” of the caller down the throats of others?
People often ask about my political stance, to which I regularly reply, “on which issue?”
I’m admittedly not a fan of political parties, which so often expect allegiance to “the platform,” rather than individuals forming their own opinions from their own experiences.
For the record, on this issue — like my darling daughter — I just don’t get it. I understand there are those who object due to their own religious beliefs. But I also understand that we have no right to impose our own personal beliefs onto the lives of other American citizens.
We have the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and so many other rights essential to freedom — including the very ability to share these thoughts in this very space without approval from a governmental entity — to thank for that.
What I don’t get is the perceived need to “defend” marriage, as so explicitly implied in both the “Defense of Marriage Act” and Proposition 8, which was known as the “California Marriage Protection Act.”
After all, there are only two people responsible for the success of my own marriage.
And quite frankly, I don’t get how, in this day and age, any Americans can still deem another law-abiding American as being any less worthy of the exact rights they enjoy, especially considering it was a full 50 years ago this very day that a milestone march and a seminal speech so imperatively insisted our nation fulfill its paramount promise that, in fact, “All men are created equal.”
Brian Hamilton is editor at The Union. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4249.