22 February 2013

Two Women In Love And A Man Who Understands Journalism

I don't remember voting on straight marriage.  So why is gay marriage an issue?

Ah, there's the Question of the Week.  In a nutshell, it tells you everything you need to know about straight and cisgender privilege:  If you are both, and you are over 18 years old (in most state's, anyway), you don't need anyone else's permission to get married.  However, if you are over 18 and not hetero (and, in some cases, if you're not cis), whether or not you can get married to the one you love depends on whether or not the honorable legislators of your state are magnanimous enough to allow you such a right.

The person who uttered the two sentences that opened this post obviously understands.  So does the editor of the newspaper in which they appeared.

So, where do you think you would find such people?  You might, understandably, come to my home town or look in some of the circles of people with whom I associate.  You wouldn't expect to find people like the one who didn't vote on straight marriage or the news reporter who quoted her almost anywhere south of the Potomac, would you? 

Among those states, the only question is:  Which will be the last one to legalize same-sex unions?  Some of you might pick Mississippi.  Some of you might say that it's the last state in which you would expect to find the woman who posed the Question of the Week, or the reporter who quoted her, much less the editor who published the story.

However, it did indeed happen in The Magnolia State. Better yet, the woman quoted--one Jessica Powell--actually married her longtime lover, Crystal Craven (You've got to love a name like that!), who has been battling brain cancer.  Their families and friends, and Craven's doctors attended the ceremony, held in a town called Laurel.

Mississippi, not surprisingly, doesn't even recognize domestic partnerships,let alone same-sex marriages.  So, as best as I can tell, there are no material benefits to their union:  If Ms. Powell has health insurance, her policy wouldn't cover her wife.  Plus, there are a whole bunch of other benefits afforded to heterosexual married couples that will not be available to Ms. Craven and Ms. Powell.  As best as I can tell, they married for the one and only reason I can see for anyone--straight or gay, cis- or trans-gendered, to get married:  They want to be together for life.

Whether or not Jim Ciegelski, the owner of the Laurel Leader-Call supports same-sex marriage in principle, he at least seems to respect Powell and Craven's decision to tie the knot.  Even more to the point--for the purposes of this story--he seems to understand what real journalism is.  (The same, sadly, cannot be said for many other who purport to practice it.)  And he has the courage, not only to allow it in his newspaper, but to defend reporter Cassidi Bush  in the face of many hateful criticisms, subscription cancellations  and even threats they received via mail, phone, e-mail and on Facebook.

The best thing about Mr. Ciegelski is that he did not publish the story because of his views on gay marriage, which he doesn't divulge.  Rather, he sees it as his job to publish something about an historic event (at least for Jones County), just as Ms. Bush saw it as her job to write the story as she did, her views notwithstanding.

In his editorial defending his decision to cover the story, he wrote:  

Most of the complaints seem to revolve around our headline, "Historic Wedding," and the fact that we chose to put the story on the front page.  You don't have to like something for it to be historic.  The holocaust, bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Black Sox scandal are all historic.  I'm in no way comparing the wedding of two females to any of these events (even though some of you made it quite clear that you think gay marriage is much worse).

Even though we're talking about Mississippi here, I still believe (or at least hope) that one day, it won't be necessary for reporters like Cassidi Bush to write stories about same-sex weddings as if they were historic events, or for publishers like Jim Ciegelski to print them.  Then they will have to find history elsewhere. Somehow, I don't think that will be a problem for them.


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