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In reporting the Colorado legislature's vote to approve civil unions for same sex couples, the Denver Post included a picture of the speaker of the state house of representatives kissing his male partner.
The photo was no big deal.
And I don't just mean because the kiss wasn't a big juicy kiss, though it wasn't. It was a very accurate and creative depiction of a moment in news. That's what photos in newspapers do.
Conservatives who like to complain about liberal media bias will argue that this is a case of media activism, the Denver Post using the photograph to editorialize its support for the civil unions law. But the Denver Post, like other newspapers, has an editorial page for that — in which the paper made clear it officially supports the civil union law and, in fact, full marriage equality. So it's not like the newspaper is feigning neutrality on the issue all the while using a photo to send a subliminal political message to readers. The newspaper's opinion is obvious. And the picture is just a picture.
Rather, the complaints about the picture — and there haven't been many — come from social conservatives who are feigning concern about media bias to mask their own biases. After all, had the Denver Post published a picture of a heterosexual couple kissing amidst a protest against the civil union law, I doubt that the same parties would still be complaining.
The fact is that the more gay people are humanized, including being shown in a messy office catching an awkward yet tender kiss, the more people support gay rights.
Polls show that people who have gay friends or family members are more likely to support marriage equality. The small but vocal minority crowing about this photograph aren't really worried about fairness and accuracy in the media, they're worried that even the most basic portrayals of gay people in the media further undermine already-marginalized anti-gay extremism.
Colorado passed a law that will help families in that state, including the two men in this picture, who kissed to celebrate.
Good for them! Good for Colorado! And good for the Denver Post for doing their job and reporting the news, with pictures!