The other day I noted the one-sided story in the Los Angeles Times about a likable lesbian couple who live in an area that voted in support of Proposition 8, which defines marriage as a heterosexual union. Well, the Times finally discovered that some people who live in California actually voted for Proposition 8. It was apparently difficult to find this bizarre group that comprises a majority of the electorate. Anyway, the Times published a story about the views of these Prop. 8 supporters and the difference is shocking. In the first story, the anti-Prop. 8 couple are portrayed as real and complex people with an interesting history and interesting ideas. They are real, live, sympathetic characters in a dramatic story.
The second story about proponents of Proposition 8 is a dry piece that features five Orange County supporters of traditional marriage. They are Larry Black, 66; Mike Mooney, 60; Richard "Mac" McConnell, 82; Yvonne Lee, 64; and Bob Murphy, 64. Do you notice anything interesting about these five individuals? Four folks in their 60s and one in his 80s? Why were these the five people chosen for the story? Presumably this story was assigned because Orange County is one of the counties that was more likely to vote yes on Prop. 8 than the state average. But Orange County is diverse age-wise, with 27 percent under the age of 18, 9 percent from 18 to 24, 33 percent from 25 to 44, 21 percent from 45 to 64, and 10 percent 65 years of age or older. This story doesn't reflect that diversity at all.
Whereas the first story explored the lives of the lesbian couple in detail, here's the perplexing bit we get about one of the OC residents:
Some supporters of the ban said they were trying to be as tolerant as they could, and took umbrage with the allegation, made repeatedly at protests, that they were homophobes.
Yvonne Lee, 64, playing with her grandchildren at the beach playground, said she has family members who are gay whom she would never want to hurt.
But as an evangelical Christian, she said she knows the "correct forces of nature." She noted that this is the second time Californians have voted to ban gay marriage, referring to Proposition 22 in 2000, which was overturned in May by the state Supreme Court.
"They lost," she said. "Accept it."
She too feared the ever-invoked slippery slope.
"What are people going to be asking for next?" she asked.
Okay, Los Angeles Times. Simmer down. Remove the dismissive qualifier of "ever-invoked." There is no need to play it that way.
The article ends with a vignette involving a bike shop owner who is also described as a "pastor." Here -- here! -- is where a qualifier would be helpful. Not with the "ever-invoked' line. But with a simple statement of what kind of pastor the bike shop owner is. Argh.
Anyway, here's how the article ends:
But he and a friend who met for lunch shrugged about the court challenges, as if the measure's overturning were inevitable.
"What am I going to do?" asked his friend, who did not want to give his name. "Move to Canada," which actually allows same-sex marriage.
That last line is a disaster. Was the friend joking? Was he making an official declaration of his intentions? Was it rhetorical? This is why God invented punctuation, so we could have some clarity. And while reporters can add some narration to clarify, this reporter's, um, ever-snippy little statements, such as the one that ends the piece, don't help.