Gay Legislative Kiss Upsets Denver Post Readers

By Diane Anderson-Minshall

Originally published on Advocate.com March 15 2013 12:13 PM ET

When photographer Craig F. Walker captured Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino — one of the biggest proponents of the state's new civil unions legislation which passed March 12 — kissing his husband, Greg Wertsch, in his office after the historic vote, he had no idea it would cause a local debate. The Denver Post, however, has gotten blowback over the image and is defending its use of the photo, sadly calling its use "a difficult decision," and asking readers for their feedback. So far 113 commenters have weighed in online alone.

Editor Linday Shapley said in a blog about the image that "another detail that made the photo so compelling was the baby bottle on Ferrandino’s desk. It belongs to the foster child he and his partner have; given that the civil unions bill offered protections for children and families, it was another element that gave context." 

She added that the paper had received objections to images of same-sex couples before, "so we all knew there would likely be a negative reaction to running the picture of Ferrandino. The civil unions vote was historic for Colorado and celebrating it was not a surprise. That led one editor to note, 'We have no issues showing a straight couple kissing on election night.'”

Photo editor Ken Lyons, who chose the photo to run on the front page of the Post, said that, “Ferrandino has been a central part of the entire civil unions debate, for years. His inclusion feels like the ending to this story, and it would have been remiss to not have him as part of the report. We were aware that some may object, but we wanted to put the truth of what the bill means to this couple. It’s an example of what it means to many couples.”