After bigots started complaining about a Mother’s Day article featuring two lesbian moms, Tom Marquardt editor and publisher of the Annapolis-based paper Capital began writing an apology. Y’know, because newspapers should only print what their readers wanna hear.
And though it would be easy to lambast Marquardt for bowing to the complaints of his conservative readers, perhaps we should blame ourselves along with the more progressive readers.
The apology has since been scrapped on the suggestion of his staffers, but let’s look at some sections from Marquardt’s original apology:
… newspaper publishes its mistakes for all to see. And that we did on May 8 with a Mother’s Day story on a lesbian couple raising two baby boys born to them through artificial insemination. The reaction among our readers was swift and damning…
Unfortunately for us, we lost sight of what the readers want to read: feel good stories about people who reflect their values. Newspapers need to mirror its readers — all of them perhaps, but inclusion not at the exception of the majority…
Had we included homosexual couples in a wide-ranging story about mothers and published it on some day other than Mother’s Day, readers probably would have been more accepting of it. There was a better way to tell this story and to also tell the story about the traditional family.”
He has since admitted, “It would be wrong to assume that the column would have run without editing and adjustment — I gave it to the key players seeking feedback, correction and suggestions.” He also added, “The staff suggested I write a column about our internal struggle [over reader responses to the article] and I may do that.”
But here’s the thing: Marquardt initially found himself besieged by comments and reader complaints like, “It makes me ill to think that innocent children are brought into abnormal situations.” And though many pro-equality commenters have posted supportive comments now that this story has garnered nationwide attention, we wonder how many people actually bothered to praise the paper for publishing the article when it first ran?
Even here at Queerty critics will often voice their opposition first with supportive readers jumping in after, which is reactive rather than proactive. While it’s our job to alert LGBT readers about such stories when they break (as Queerty commenter Patrick helpfully pointed out), if Marquardt had first heard from lots of people who loved seeing lesbian moms on Mother’s Day, he never would have felt pressured to pen an apology for publishing challenging, progressive, and inclusive coverage of his own community.