Our front-page story on Sunday about the wedding of a gay couple prompted angry calls from dozens of readers. They were offended that we gave prominent display to a topic that conflicts with their view of morality. Many callers saw this as the BND's endorsement of same-sex marriage.
Understand that news stories aren't written based on whether we think something is right or wrong. The criteria is whether the subject is noteworthy and of interest to the community. The recent death of former Sen. Alan Dixon was front-page news and had nothing to do with whether we agreed with his politics. Similarly, what likely was the first same-sex marriage in a Belleville church and reaction from other area churches was significant local news.
Putting the story on the front page wasn't the reason the marriage happened. The BND didn't legalize same-sex marriage; the state of Illinois did. We didn't permit the marriage ceremony; Peace Lutheran Church did.
Conversely, failing to report on the wedding, or burying the story in the back of the paper, wouldn't change the fact that this is an important social issue. Of the 145 marriage licenses returned to St. Clair County in June, 45 were for same-sex marriages.
The article included multiple quotes from other local religious denominations that same-sex marriage is incompatible with their beliefs.
Agree or disagree, this will continue to be a topic of much debate as individuals, including church leaders, either affirm or change their views. We hope this news story and others about the topic will add to the discussion.