Wick Communications

Or forever hold your peace

In Ethics on 30 Oct 2014 at 12:29 pm
Jillian Danielson for News-Herald. Kim Manson and Kelly Meister

Photo courtesy Jillian Danielson for News-Herald. That is Kim Manson on the left with Kelly Meister.

It’s pretty clear now that history is on the side of same-sex marriage. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and allowed same-sex marriages to go forward in California. Since then it has been one victory after another for proponents of same-sex marriage.

Today the practice is allowed in 31 states. Gallup reports that 55 percent of Americans support gay marriage, up from 27 percent less than 20 years ago. Things change.

Earlier this month, a federal judge struck down the ban on gay marriage in Arizona and the state’s attorney general said appealing would “waste taxpayers’ money,” according to USA Today. The floodgates were open. Many Arizonans were suddenly free to marry for the first time.

At least two Wick newspapers jumped in to cover history. In Nogales, reporters were unable (at this writing at least) to contact the first couple to get married there. Editor Jonathan Clark and I traded emails over whether to list the names in the regular marriage license list (we agreed the answer was “yes”) and how to handle the story without participation of the newlyweds.

In Lake Havasu, reporter Zachary Matson had a little more luck.

“I was fortunate to find contact information and didn’t come up against resistance once I touched base with them,” he said. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t the first to report that this was the first couple and probably would’ve had a better story if I had hung around the courthouse on the day of the ruling. But I think, if you are able to get a couple to cooperate, it is definitely important to find a time and place to sit down with them both – whether at their home or over coffee.

“It was obvious they had different personalities and different feelings about the changes and it was helpful to get them conversing with one another,” he said. “From there it’s basically asking about the story of their relationship — how they met, had they considered marrying elsewhere, did they think this would happen, what the impact of the change is for teens, etc.”

The result is this perfect lede:

Kelly Meister stood in front of a mirror earlier this week and pinched herself – she couldn’t believe the week she was having. On Friday, she will be married to Kim Manson, the love of her life.

I think the overall message I would convey to anyone attempting a similarly perfect lede is to treat these newlyweds as you would treat any others. It’s a historic occasion, but after the first time, it’s just another act of love. And what’s not to love about that? Lastly, going forward, if you list marriage licenses for others, list them for same-sex couples as well.




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