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.
We published an announcement Sunday that two men, one a former Elkhart resident, plan to marry this month in Iowa. For more than 48 hours, readers barely uttered a word. We received four e-mails -- two against, one for and one that misspelled "disgusting" -- two phone calls, and no letters to the editor and roughly 10 comments on eTruth.com.
Readers either didn't notice the announcement among the other engagements Sunday or they made their peace with it. No big deal. That is, until a pair of family advocacy groups, abetted by a local AM radio station, organized a protest against The Truth.
People wrote and called from throughout Indiana. Many expressed their sincere belief that homosexuality is a sin and that marriage is between a man and a woman. Others quoted straight from the Fred Phelps playbook, excoriating "fags" and "perverts."
Most asked the same questions -- why did you publish a same-sex engagement announcement when it's illegal in Indiana and why are you promoting the gay marriage?
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.
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.
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?
Now, to address the accusation that we're promoting gay rights.
Protesters believe that every news story amounts to an official endorsement of its content. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We publish announcements every week about babies born to unwed mothers. Does that mean we approve of births out of wedlock?
It doesn't mean that we approve or disapprove. It's news.
If we ever decide to endorse gay marriage -- or to oppose it -- we will argue our case on this page in a clearly labeled editorial. This is where we state our opinions.
But our personal beliefs about homosexuality did not influence the decision to publish Sunday's announcement. They didn't even enter into the conversation.
We received an engagement announcement, and we decided to treat it like every other engagement announcement. We treated it as news.