Bil Browning

Indiana newspaper publishes same-sex marriage announcement: Batshittery ensues

Filed By Bil Browning | July 16, 2009 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: American Family Association, Elkhart Truth, Indiana, Iowa, marriage announcement, same-sex marriage

When the Elkhart Truth published a same-sex wedding announcement for Micheal Berkey and James Chapin earlier this week, Hoosier fundies went bananas. The couple plan to be married July 25th in Iowa.

It didn't take long for the American Family Association of Indiana to start spinning and spreading lies. The group sent out an action alert to their sheeple suggesting that the paper will soon start printing "anniversary announcements for polygamous marriages" and "incestuous birth announcements." So far the newspaper has stood its ground that same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa.

Would the Elkhart Truth publish ads for prostitution simply because it is legal in Nevada? What about late-term abortion advertisements from Kansas? How about accepting an obituary for someone planning to commit suicide in Oregon where euthanasia is legal?

Local anti-gay blogger Brian Sikma picks up the homophobic rallying cry but adds an important bit of information. He tells his readers, "You can reach John Dille III, CEO of Federated Media, by calling 574-295-2500 or email jdille@federatedmedia.com. Your polite but firm message to him, and his company, regarding this matter will make a difference." You can do the same thing, of course. You can also e-mail a letter to the editor of The Truth.

But the best part of this story is after the jump.

Local anti-abortion wingnut legislator Jackie Walorski (she dooms Indiana's hate crimes legislation each year by insisting legislators vote on adding fetuses as a protected class) helped AFA-IN to raise the ruckus and brags about it on her blog.

Thanks to those of you that called or emailed me about the issue of printing same sex marriage photos in The Truth. I did an interview yesterday morning on WFRN and it sounds like hundreds of people responded. You might want to check out The Truth's editorial today, it seems as though they are rock solid in their decision and are amused at the response of those that disagree with their decision. You can still call and give your opinion; it seems as though they are tracking the responses.

The Truth responded to the criticism today with a barnstormer of an editorial that's definitely worth a read. While this clip is well-reasoned, you have to read the whole thing to get a real feel for how strongly supportive they are.

People wrote and called from throughout Indiana. Many expressed their sincere belief that homosexuality is a sin and that marriage is between a man and a woman. Others quoted straight from the Fred Phelps playbook, excoriating "fags" and "perverts."

Most asked the same questions -- why did you publish a same-sex engagement announcement when it's illegal in Indiana and why are you promoting the gay marriage?

Same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa, where the couple lives and plans to marry. Since one of the young men is originally from Elkhart and his family still lives here, we did the same thing we'd do for any other local family with a child getting married -- we published the couple's engagement announcement.

We fulfilled our role as a paper of record. We documented an engagement, something we do hundreds of times each year.

Protesters asked why we would publish a story about something illegal in Indiana. Basically, it's because an informed citizenry, a citizenry capable of thinking for itself, needs uncensored news from a variety of sources. That includes states and nations where the law does not conform to Indiana's.

Because after all, how would Hoosiers who oppose gay rights even know about Iowa's same-sex marriage ruling in April if news outlets hadn't reported it in Indiana -- where same-sex marriage is illegal?

Waloski's blog post adds some of the craziest shit I've seen her put out yet. The twists to her logic are amazing.

I spoke with Managing Editor, Greg Halling, to express concern as to why they would publish something that isn't legal here and in today's editorial they equate this decision with printing birth announcements even if the babies are born "out of wedlock" but being born out of wedlock isn't illegal and the birth is still recognized by the State as legitimate. It's the voters in Indiana that choose the laws and the community standard by which we live and are governed.

The absolute stupidity of Walorski's statement could knock you over with the sheer weight of all the o's in STOOOOPID. Since when do voters in Indiana choose whether or not the Elkart Truth can publish a same-sex marriage announcement? Was there an amendment added to our state DOMA that said, "And you can't publish announcements from out-of-state gay weddings either!"?

Walorski is too dim to realize that she's not "governed" by community standards either; statistics say that a good portion of her community is adulterers. Does this mean she'll be cheating on her spouse soon? A good portion are also drug users. Will Walorski pick up the crack pipe?

Cuz I'm guessing that a story about state legislator Jackie Walorski caught smoking crack while cheating on her husband would be newsworthy (if true!) - even though smoking crack is against the law in Indiana.


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"Would the Elkhart Truth publish ads for prostitution simply because it is legal in Nevada?"

If it was an ad for prostitution that will take place in Nevada, why wouldn't it?

"What about late-term abortion advertisements from Kansas?"

Why not?

"How about accepting an obituary for someone planning to commit suicide in Oregon where euthanasia is legal?"

Does the paper accept pre-death obits under any circumstances? If so, why would the scenario in question be any different?


Any further (dumbass christianist) questions?

I hope people don't start to get the impression that Indiana is full of these sorts of fundies. We really aren't!

That's such a dumb argument, though. The paper is right - the most comparable situation is children born out of wedlock. It's frowned upon but it doesn't hurt anyone.

And the late-term abortion ads... ay. I know these people think Tiller was running a baby-killing McD's out there in Kansas, but I doubt the guy even advertised what he was doing. And considering that folks like these had him killed, you'd think they'd be a little more sensitive to using it so trivially.

Also too, what about the freedom of the press? Does she think that she can tell a newspaper whatever it prints has to be approved by law? Does she stop and think about these things before she says them?

Ugh. OK, that was more words than these people are worth.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | July 16, 2009 5:50 PM

Batshittery indeed, ten times over. The editors received the following E-mail from me:

"Dear E-truth:

It looks as if you have, in your appreciation for tolerance and diversity, and the aspirations of all Hoosiers, of whatever persuasions, dared upset the American Family Association. Shame on you! How dare you cover anything but the “real” Americans that this chronically complaining and narrowly focused group thing are (or ought to be) their image as they consider God to have specially revealed to them and urged them to urge others to send in those contributions!

I’m referring of course to your recent coverage of a couple of young men who’ve decided to go to the state of Iowa and get married. No doubt you have already been sent many messages saying exactly the same thing generated by clicking on links to you that their frantic alert has provided . But they they’ve not been known for fostering originality and variety.

But as is typical, they can’t stop with demonizing a couple of guys who just want to have a bit of what married couples want: To have the same rights and benefits the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution guarantees to all. They conjure up future pictures glorifying all kinds of things, from polygamy to prostitution to who knows what other thing they want to conjure up in their hate for their gay and lesbian neighbors who dare seek equal protection under the law in all areas, including marriage.

Don’t be cowed by their tactics. Attitudes in Indiana are rapidly changing, especially among the young. These same AFA folks are on the forefront to pushing a would-be constitutional amendment that would deny elected representatives of the people of Indiana, our General Assembly, the right to even debate and pass civil unions or similar measures. They say they’re only trying to stop “activist judges”, but anyone who reads their amendment (which is far more radical than the one they proposed a few years back), will instantly know better.

So keep up the good work of reflecting ALL of Hoosierdom and America, not just the images of individuals and couples the narrow minds of the AFA would like to impose in their equally narrow worldview. And take steps to educate yourselves and your staff as to what their proposals, sure to come back in the next session, are really about. You owe your readership no less than that".

Bil said:

While this clip is well-reasoned, you have to read the whole thing to get a real feel for how strongly supportive they are.

For me, the editorial nailed it more clearly:

It doesn't mean that we approve or disapprove. It's news.

If we ever decide to endorse gay marriage -- or to oppose it -- we will argue our case on this page in a clearly labeled editorial. This is where we state our opinions

The Elkhart Truth has declared zero support for gay marriage. It has simply affirmed its commitment to rational, professional journalism.

Ricky Leliefeld | July 16, 2009 9:36 PM

I am writing in support of your including the engagement announcement for Michael Berkey and James Chapin.Although many of your readers may not agree with or believe in gay marriage.The printing of news is your business and freedom of the press blesses you with the ability to print anything worthy of being called news and or of interest to your readers,redneck or not.I would love to see the names of all residents in your community that have been caught in adulterous affairs,everyone knows that that is one of the commandments.The names should be posted of all unwed mothers as well those of her mother and father who have apparently not taught their children that sex out of wedlock is a no-no.And of course the fathers of these bastards should also be named so the families of unsuspecting virginal maids can be sure and keep them away until its time to sell,oops I mean give them away into marriage.Anyone that is guilty of breaking any one of the 12 commandments should have their transgressions listed in the paper for all to see.That way if it is an offense worthy of stoning or banishment from the village all will be informed of the time and place of the stoning and the time when the banishment begins. Just a few things for the REAL PEOPLE of Elkhart to consider when they are deciding what should and should not be in their local paper.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 17, 2009 3:45 AM

I will drop this editor a note suggesting that he bring a federal lawsuit against Jacki Walorski for interference in their First Amendment rights.

David Castillo David Castillo | July 17, 2009 5:34 PM

That was an awesome editorial and The Truth editorial board deserves much kudos for their well-reasoned response to the baffonery of Walorski and her ilk.

Thanks for letting us know all the nitty gritty. I have sent emails both to the editor and CEO as you noted.

Donna Pandori Donna Pandori | July 20, 2009 9:18 AM

Where are all Walorski's followers? Do they not have computers? Her blog has a whopping 7 members and she had ZERO comments to her posts regarding the Elkhart Truth story.

Tahlib Disney-Britton | September 3, 2009 11:37 AM

Did the Hoosiers get married on the 25th? Did they go through with their plan to go to Iowa?

E-truth I think that is a great thing you did for that couple by publishing that. There are so many things gay and lesbians couples lose out on when they want to marry. having it published in the paper is just one of those small things that mean a lot. Thank you for giving this couple something special.