Mississippi bigots freak out over local paper’s coverage of 1st gay wedding in county

It seems the good people of Jones County, Mississippi are quite beside themselves over a recent article in the local paper reporting on the first marriage of a same-sex couple in the county.  It’s a beautifully written story.  Fair and objective, but still treating the couple and their story as human beings.

(Same-sex marriages are not legally-recognized in Mississippi.  Though slavery was abolished in Mississippi two weeks ago, so hope springs eternal.)

Apparently the reporter failed to report that the brides had horns and spewed green slime.

The local readers were particularly upset that the paper called the wedding “historic,” and that it appeared on the front page where children might see it.  The editor got a lot of vicious phone calls, and several letters to the editor.

Here’s an example of the letters the paper.  You see, apparently the small-town Mississippi paper never has stories about heterosexuals:

Regarding your story “Historic Wedding”…will we be seeing heterosexual weddings featured on the front page soon? Will we see articles featuring traditional families and Christian family values featured on the the front page soon? How about some “human interest” stories that focus on traditional family values reflecting the standards in which most of our community believes. If there is no “social agenda” or “jounalistic senstionalism” involved in your reporting…if you truly want to be “fair” and “unbiased” in your reporting, then we can expect to see some of the stories I mentioned on the front page in the near future, right??? Well, I won’t hold my breath!

I know how this person feels.  How often have you said to yourself, “when are newspapers finally going to write about heterosexual marriages?” They could call them… wedding announcements.

gay-wedding-mississippiAnd by the way, one of the women getting married has stage 4 brain cancer, the story reports.  That’s who local Mississippians are calling an “abomination against God” in their hateful phone calls to the editor.

The editor of the paper wrote a great editorial responding to the bigots.  You can find it online here, page A5.  In his response, he noted a few key points.

1. We don’t base our news stories on whether the story in question is going to make you angry.

2. Our job isn’t to ignore the news that you don’t like. Our job is to report on what’s going on, and give you the facts so you can make your own judgment about them.

3. Just because we call something “historic” doesn’t mean we’re making a value judgment that it’s a good thing. Pearl Harbor was historic.

4. If you’re so worried about what your children will see on the front page of the paper, why don’t you ever call to complain when we report about rapes, kidnappings, murder?

Here’s another of the letters to the editor from the hateful locals:

I can’t figure out where gay people are being denied their rights under the law. They have the right to hold any position they want…they can’t be discriminated against in the workplace. They may live wherever they choose…they are protected from housing discrimination. No one can tell them what they may or may not say…they enjoy the rights and protection of the Bill of Rights and all other rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. They may name their partners as their beneficieries in their wills and on their life insurance policies so they are protected financially. They can establish rights so far as end of life decisions are made so that their partners may be part of the medical process if they so choose. They enjoy all the rights of any American citizen…it seems the only thing lacking is “permission” for them to destroy the concept of marriage and family as defined by Christian principles. It seems to me that the only thing they really seek is to FORCE everyone to see things from their prospective and accept their choices no matter what anyone else believes. If they want others to respect them, then maybe they need to show some respect and tolerance toward others…just a thought!

Well, actually, gay people don’t have the right to hold any position they want, and they’re not protected against discrimination in the workplace under federal law or in 29 states.  This is a common misconception among the public, that some nebulous over-arching concept of “discrimination” is banned in the Constitution or generally “in the law.”  It’s not.  It’s only banned for select categories, such as race, religion, and national origin.

And there is no federal law protecting gays against housing discrimination, nor do most state laws provide such protections. So, perhaps you’d like to do some research next time before spouting off against people you hate for reasons that aren’t even true.

Just a thought!

Fortunately, the letters weren’t all bad:

I thought there was no hope for the media in this country but you have just shown what journalistic integrity is all about. The major papers and news channels should take their lessons from you.

Even among the worst hate, there is hope.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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