This morning's New York Times has a story about the firestorm created, first by the decision of a weekly newspaper /website serving the Jewish community of northern New Jersey to publish an announcement of a same-sex wedding, and then by the new firestorm that erupted after the paper apologized for having done so and promised not to do it again. After receiving some 400 on-line comments, of which fewer than a dozen were supportive of the decision not to publish, the publisher announced that it would review its decision after further consultation with community leaders.
Although it's not mentioned in their story this morning, the Times began publishing such announcements in 2002, and usually carries one or two each week in its Sunday Styles section.
I remember when the Times first announced that it would be carrying these announcements, but I have no recollection of whether they ever discussed the reaction to the new policy. But clearly, unlike the New Jersey publisher, they did their due diligence up front and have stuck to their decision.
There are issues here related to the obligation of the media to publish all the news, even items that some find offensive, the propriety of those who object threatening economic sanctions, the credibility of a news outlet that zigs and a week later zags -- but in this Family Dynamics Forum, I want to focus on the societal rather than the journalistic issues.
What has clearly happened in the last decade is a major upheaval in the way the American (and the international) public regards what used to be called "the love that dares not speak its name." The whole topic of homosexuality has come out of the closet; and a pervasive attitude that this was a lifestyle choice has given way to an attitude that this is a matter of genetic programming.
We see this in the pressure to repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell, in the growing number of states that have legalized same-sex marriage and/or civil unions; in the extension of partner benefits by major corporations, and the list goes on. We have all always known people in what has come to be known as the GLBT community -- but where once we may have whispered about it, now it's out in the open and the general attitude is So what. Yes, there are still pockets of religious intolerance -- Bible-thumpers who insist on quoting Leviticus 18:23 while disregarding its neighboring verse about not standing idly by while your neighbor bleeds, and certainly not claiming any contemporary validity for the Biblical commands to stone Sabbath violators or children who talk back to their parents. (Well, there actually still are places where stones are thrown at Sabbath violators, but only to hurt them, not to kill them.)
Those of us on The Other Side of Fifty grew up in a different world than the one we are living in today, and, from my perspective at least, it's good to know that our children and grandchildren will not have to overcome some of the prejudices that were widespread when we were their age. There may be many arenas where we long for the good old days -- but this is one where the new day is better!