Divisive topics not always about politics

Executive editorAugust 19, 2012 

We received several calls last week from readers upset about our front-page story Tuesday on the wedding of Pablo Monroy and Derrick Peacock, two gay men.

One reader said she was “disappointed” that we ran the story and a few said the story wasn’t newsworthy. One man called the TNT immoral for running a photo of the two men kissing and canceled his subscription.

The issue of same-sex marriage is a delicate one with strong and legitimate emotions running on either side. That makes it tender territory for a newspaper.

The Legislature legalized same-sex marriage this year. Referendum 74 on the November ballot will let voters decide whether to uphold or turn back the lawmakers’ decision.

In our minds, that makes same-sex marriage a newsworthy topic. We’ve run several stories explaining the law, the referendum and the politics on either side. We will run more before the fall election.

Tuesday’s story, however, was not intended to be about politics. It was intended to show a slice of modern-day life: How two families more or less are coming to grips with a lifestyle that’s new to them. Those who attended the wedding all said they love Peacock and Monroy, but individuals among them were in different places regarding their acceptance of same-sex marriage.

It was the nuance in Craig Sailor’s story we found most interesting. No matter your stance on same-sex marriage, you likely could find yourself in one of the characters of his story.

Monroy’s stepfather surprised other family members by being supportive from the beginning. Peacock’s parents were shocked when he told them he was gay, but his mother has moved beyond the issue of his marriage and is asking him for grandchildren. Peacock’s grandmother said she struggles with her grandson’s orientation, but she came to the wedding because she loves him. Monroy’s groomsman backed out of the ceremony, saying he couldn’t morally support the marriage.

We ran the story to show readers one example of how this issue played out in real life.

We’ve also tried to represent members of our community who oppose homosexuality.

In February, religion writer Steve Maynard wrote a front-page story about local churches leaving their denominations over the ordination of gay pastors. This also was a delicate topic, but Maynard found people willing to speak about this deeply personal matter that was dividing church families. He cited Bible verses either side used to support their decisions.

Neither of those stories was meant as an endorsement by The News Tribune, something we save for the editorial page.

But even on the topics of homosexuality and same-sex marriage – where feelings run deep and emotions run high – the paper shouldn’t back away from explaining and reflecting what’s happening in our community. We will do so with as much sensitivity as we can.

FAREWELL KATHLEEN

Thanks to those of you who helped us celebrate Kathleen Merryman’s retirement after 29 years at the TNT. She was tickled by every person who stopped by on Wednesday.

The newsroom honored her Thursday in true Kits fashion – with a surprise potluck lunch. It might have been the only time she sat down to eat with us that she hadn’t organized the affair and brought half the food.

Kits was as caring with her colleagues over the years as she was with the community – defending the underdogs, cheering every small victory, planting flowers (albeit plastic ones) throughout the newsroom to liven it up.

We wish her all the same happiness as she dances out the door and into her new life.

A reader of her column on Saturday summed it up perfectly with this online comment:

“Nicely done, Kathleen. Thank you for reminding us of the good in the South Sound. Happy trails to you. :)”

karen.peterson@thenewstribune.com
253-597-8434
@TNTkpeterson

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