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Washington Post Ombudsman Defends Photo Featuring Gay Kiss


Washington Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander today defended a photo by staff photographer Bill O'Leary which appeared on the front page of the paper, with the following caption: "Two happy couples express their enthusiasm as the District begins taking applications for marriage licenses from same-sex couples. At top are Jeremy Ames, left, and Taka Ariga. Above are Cuc Vu, left, and Gwen Migita."

Alexander said the letters expressing outrage over the photo have not stopped coming:

Many threatened to cancel their Post subscriptions, and more than two dozen did. Post circulation vice president Gregg Fernandes said that late last week 27 subscribers canceled, specifically citing the photo. In contrast, The Post reported only two cancellations immediately after last July’s ethics uproar over its ill-advised plan to sell sponsorships to off-the-record “salon” dinners at the publisher’s residence.

Did the Post go too far? Of course not. The photo deserved to be in newspaper and on its Web site, and it warranted front-page display.

News photos capture reality. And the prominent display reflects the historic significance of what was occurring. The recent D.C. Council decision to approve same-sex marriage was the culmination of a decades-long gay rights fight for equality. Same-sex marriage is now legal in the District. The photo of Ames and Ariga kissing simply showed joy that would be exhibited by any couple planning to wed – especially a couple who previously had been denied the legal right to marry.

There was a time, after court-ordered integration, when readers complained about front-page photos of blacks mixing with whites. Today, photo images of same-sex couples capture the same reality of societal change.

Head over to the WaPo for some additional details on the angry letters.

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  1. We're here, etc...

    Deal with it, cunts!

    Posted by: Kevin | Mar 9, 2010 2:47:56 PM

  2. Today I signed up for the Washington Post
    and I told the customer service rep that it was BECAUSE of the photo... just email and sign up!

    Posted by: SeaMonster | Mar 9, 2010 2:55:24 PM

  3. How dare a newspaper report on the news, I mean what would Jesus do?

    Posted by: M. Bergeron | Mar 9, 2010 2:58:34 PM

  4. Ann Witty of Woodbridge wrote to say she had canceled the Post subscription she has held since the 1960s.

    “I am 65 years old and I realize that the world is changing rapidly – much more rapidly than I would like it to,” she e-mailed. “While I realize that the Post must report on these changes – even the ones with which I do not agree – I feel that the picture on Thursday morning was an affront to the majority of your readership. It is not something that I want coming into my home. I believe that even your editors know that it would have been better placed in the Metro section and that it would have mitigated its impact to do so.”

    Ann F Witty
    5134 Cannon Bluff Dr
    Woodbridge, VA 22192-5741
    (703) 590-5912

    Posted by: JohnInManhattan | Mar 9, 2010 3:04:40 PM

  5. Well, if the reality of love is an affront to Ann (and her ilk), then surely we must hide it!

    Posted by: David R. | Mar 9, 2010 3:09:29 PM

  6. Let the homophobes blood boil over!

    Yeah, a couple dozen subscription cancellations to the Post really makes a statement. LOL

    I can just hear the homophobes now.
    "Oh the humanity, what about the children!"

    Posted by: Jake | Mar 9, 2010 3:12:14 PM

  7. johninmanhattan,

    with all due respect, i think it's irresponsible to put someone's address up like that.

    if you disagree with what she wrote, as i'm sure most of us here do, you are free to write to the washington post or sign up for a subscription with the paper. i just don't understand what you seek to accomplish by publishing this old lady's address and phone number.

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | Mar 9, 2010 3:17:45 PM

  8. Yeah, calling her up and unloading rage on her is going to make her warm up to us.

    Posted by: BobN | Mar 9, 2010 3:35:17 PM

  9. Born and daftpunkydavid,
    To hell with that woman. I could care less if she warms up to us. Do you really think that's a possibility anyway!

    I'm done giving respect to people who don't respect me and find gay people disgusting.

    We can all learn a lesson from the young gay community who refuse to be forced into the closet by the bigots.
    Stand up people!

    Posted by: Martin | Mar 9, 2010 3:48:21 PM

  10. Meanwhile - strawn throughout the paper- constant visuals of Heterosexuals..kissing,hugging, wrking together, sex ads...the constant barage of thier heterosexuality being "shoved" down our throats!

    Posted by: Disgusted American | Mar 9, 2010 3:49:52 PM

  11. I agree with daftpunkydavid. What on earth will you accomplish by sending her vicious hate mail or phone calls? She is still a private citizen...and harassing her is still harassment. How could it blow up in our face? Picture the 6 o-clock news w/ a 65 year old woman, who looks like a nice grandma who presents letters and voicemails from gays being vicious and hateful. Like it or not, we are in a weaker position as a minority. Unfornately, while we feel rage, we have to kill with kindness in this instance. I'm not saying rage should never factor in, but staying away from this woman is appropriate.

    Posted by: ERB | Mar 9, 2010 4:08:29 PM

  12. Whatever, that old crone will be dead in a few years. Let her live her remaining bitter years in paranoia and misery. And newspaper-less.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Mar 9, 2010 4:10:47 PM

  13. Think of all the pictures of war, blood, crime and violence that have graced the front page of the paper...who canceled their subscriptions over that sort of graphic imagery that might be seen by their kids. But a (gasp) KISS??! People are nuts.

    Posted by: robert | Mar 9, 2010 4:13:19 PM

  14. I added this to their comment section, though the outrage is so idiotic I felt silly even responding:

    The idea that this picture is somehow not appropriate is ludicrous. Of course it's appropriate! Same-sex marriage is now legal in Washington DC, and getting the first legal same-sex marriage licenses was unquestionably news. So, unless these readers would also object to a similar photo of an opposite-sex couple (which hardly would be news or rare), then they have no rational argument to make. Furthermore, news is news. It's not something every reader must agree with or approve of. The news is not created to reinforce one's world view. It reflects world reality. Don't like reality, don't read newspapers or move them quickly to the recycling bin.

    Posted by: Ernie | Mar 9, 2010 4:20:06 PM

  15. If you want to know how much things have changed around this country, just know that in California the fact that DC has marriage equality barely was a blip on the news. In the recent past, this would have been splashed all over CNN, USAToday, and NYTimes, with thousands of negative, hate-filled comments. Now, hardly a mention, and it's already out of the major news cycles. Now, that is really monumental change.

    Posted by: Keith | Mar 9, 2010 4:26:52 PM

  16. I say we all meet up in front of Ann's house and have a giant gay snuggle! Though perhaps we should, out of good conscious, alert some EMTs to be prepared for the epic case of "the vapors" she's bound to be struck with.

    Posted by: JT | Mar 9, 2010 4:35:18 PM

  17. Please join Washington Post World Desk on Facebook and post a compliment

    Posted by: ty | Mar 9, 2010 4:37:31 PM

  18. I agree with Disgusted American. These angry righteous bigots complain about an innocuous photo like this one yet the rest of the newspaper is FULL of images of heteros blatantly sucking face and showing affection. I'm sick and tired of heteros flaunting their lifestyle and "shoving it down our throats" !!

    Posted by: Indignant | Mar 9, 2010 5:09:20 PM

  19. Oh me gods, it's also an ASIAN putting his ASIAN VIET KONG lips to the face of a LISPY PANSY. Clutch the pearls, I must gouge out my eyes with hard pieces of candy from the bottom of my purse and then write a letter to the editor post haste!

    Posted by: Gregoire | Mar 9, 2010 5:33:35 PM

  20. 27 out of how many subscribe to the post?

    Is this really newsworthy to point out or are they just trying to say how risky they are? I don't get it either way. Oh, yes 27 nut cases are going to doom the newspaper and they will have to lay off staff.

    When did the press really care if the story they did was going to offend people? If so can we say that when they report on Focus on Family that we are going to drop our subscription?

    A newspaper should be proud of the fact they take the upper ground. So again what is the point of reporting this? What are they exactly saying? That they shouldn't report this because they are losing all 27 subscribers? Or that gay people still offend some people in Washington D.C.?

    My God, 27 people. Let's all cry a tear.

    Posted by: Dawson | Mar 9, 2010 6:12:39 PM

  21. more than two dozen cancellations


    Posted by: steve | Mar 9, 2010 7:38:45 PM

  22. I have got to call my mom and have her restart the paper for god's sake -- LOL

    Posted by: David B. 2 | Mar 9, 2010 8:29:57 PM

  23. Damn! Get over it people!!! What are you so afraid of?

    Posted by: Bob | Mar 9, 2010 8:30:08 PM

  24. Oh,'s All about YOU, Ann! Someone send her a copy of the paper...with a dead fish wrapped in it!


    Posted by: Bruce Wayne | Mar 10, 2010 2:01:33 AM

  25. I have taken the liberty of renewing Ms. Anne F. Witti's subscription for her. It's on me, girl. Now go back to enjoying one of the best remaining newspapers in the country and stop your silly fretting.

    Everything okie-doakie now?

    Posted by: Adrian Kimberly | Mar 10, 2010 9:37:08 AM

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