Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.
Iowa wedding announcement creates controversy for Indiana newspaper
Management at The Elkhart Truth in Elkhart, Indiana was unintentionally put in the center of the same-sex marriage debate this week when it published an Iowa couple’s marriage announcement.
The Iowa couple — Michael Berkey and James Chapin, both of Hanlontown — were featured in the newpaper’s July 12 engagement section because Berkey is a graduate of the local high school and his parents continue to reside in the community. Their wedding is planned for later this month.
The backlash from groups who oppose marriage equality began 48 hours later. At first the announcement became fodder for local radio station, then the American Family Association of Indiana, according to Indiana reporter Bil Browning, e-mailed an action alert to its membership, suggesting that the paper would also soon print “anniversary announcements for polygamous marriages” and “incestuous birth announcements.” Conservative Indiana blogger Brian Sikma, citing the fact that Indiana law does not recognize same-sex marriages, encouraged readers to contact the The Elkhart Truth’s parent company, Federation Media, to launch a complaint.
The editorial board at The Truth addressed the ongoing controversy on its own pages.
We had no idea that people in Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Warsaw, Kokomo, Indianapolis, Fishers, LaGrange, Muncie, South Bend and Syracuse cared so passionately about The Elkhart Truth. Not to mention our burgeoning fan base in Lawton, Okla.
Nonetheless, we appreciate the interest…
…Same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa, where the couple lives and plans to marry. Since one of the young men is originally from Elkhart and his family still lives here, we did the same thing we’d do for any other local family with a child getting married — we published the couple’s engagement announcement.
Because after all, how would Hoosiers who oppose gay rights even know about Iowa’s same-sex marriage ruling in April if news outlets hadn’t reported it in Indiana — where same-sex marriage is illegal? …
We fulfilled our role as a paper of record. We documented an engagement, something we do hundreds of times each year.
Protesters asked why we would publish a story about something illegal in Indiana. Basically, it’s because an informed citizenry, a citizenry capable of thinking for itself, needs uncensored news from a variety of sources. That includes states and nations where the law does not conform to Indiana’s.
Same-sex couples began entering into legal marriages in Iowa on April 27, following a unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court that the state’s definition of marriage, which excluded same-sex couples, violated the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution. A study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law indicated that spending on gay and lesbian weddings and the related tourism could bring $53 million a year to Iowa.