The Washington Post ran a front page story on March 4 about D.C. issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This photo of a gay couple kissing accompanied that article.

Photo Credit: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post

The photo caption read:

Happy couples express their enthusiasm as the District begins taking applications for marriage licenses from same-sex couples. [Jeremy Ames (left) and Taka Ariga]

Andrew Alexander, the WaPo ombudsman, wrote on his blog that the photo caused quite the commotion among many of its readers.

Alexander writes:

A few of the readers have engaged in rants, often with anti-gay slurs … But most simply said The Post had offended their sensibilities by publishing the photo, especially on the front page … Many threatened to cancel their Post subscriptions, and more than two dozen did.

Most of the comments expressed extreme discomfort with being confronted with the reality of two people of the same sex kissing.

Alexander continues:

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 …

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.

Kudos to WaPo for publishing the photo on its front page—and defending the decision.

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