The controversy over same-sex marriage announcements has found its way to the New Jersey Jewish Standard which announced today that it would no longer run same-sex marriage announcements after its first one caused a controversy.
Now, the religious press is going to be held to a different standard than the mainstream press, but this kerfuffle in a state where civil unions are legal has gotten some attention, especially from critics in the Jewish community questioning the decision.
Here’s the explanation from the Standard:
We set off a firestorm last week by publishing a same-sex couple’s announcement of their intent to marry. Given the tenor of the times, we did not expect the volume of comments we have received, many of them against our decision to run the announcement, but many supportive as well.
A group of rabbis has reached out to us and conveyed the deep sensitivities within the traditional/Orthodox community to this issue. Our subsequent discussions with representatives from that community have made us aware that publication of the announcement caused pain and consternation, and we apologize for any pain we may have caused.
The Jewish Standard has always striven to draw the community together, rather than drive its many segments apart. We have decided, therefore, since this is such a divisive issue, not to run such announcements in the future.
I’m not sure how excluding same-sex marriages draws the community together when two of the three major segments of American Judaism either embrace or cautiously approve of same-sex marriage, but I’m not sure that’s the point.
The reaction has been interesting. Andrew Silow-Carroll, Editor-in-Chief of the rival New Jersey Jewish News says on his blog, “[i]f the Standard thought the retraction and statement would quench the firestorm, they were either naive or unduly optimistic. It will at least be duked out in the letters pages, while it certainly deserves a more sophisticated public conversation than the brief mea culpa.
Silow-Caroll, whose audience is more liberal than the Standard’s,says “publishing a same-sex engagement announcement and the next week saying “we’ll never do it again” is worse than not publishing it all” and suggests the Standard was likely influenced by the large Orthodox community in Teaneck, N.J., adding “I’m sympathetic to the pressures, financial and otherwise, they and the local federation must have been under.”
The folks at the Jewcy blog were less polite.
We at Jewcy would like to take a moment to say that we are no longer readers of The Jewish Standard, due to this decision. Go rent MILK, visit The Museum of Tolerance, and get back to us when you’ve come to your senses.
There is a religious question, but there is also a journalism question. Does the newspaper refuse to take other listings from things that anger one segment of its readership? When it bows to pressure from critics, when else will it bow to critics in its news coverage? And what is the message the newspaper gives to its gay and lesbian readers, the families of gays and lesbians, and its readers who support same-sex marriage both legally and from a religious perspective?