Certain events will make journalists react, ready to document the nascent images of history in the making.Occasionally, history doesn’t happen as fast as you planned. I found myself springing into action last week when news broke of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on same-sex marriage. Rather than peruse Facebook to find out how all my close and not-so-close friends felt about the divisive issue, I decided that Platte County citizens needed to know about that historic first couple to apply for a same-sex marriage license.
I really didn’t want to wade through the divisive, often-ill-informed opinions anyway.
So I gathered items at my desk: pen, paper, phone (for audio recording and maybe a picture) and headed out to the Platte County Government Complex on Friday, June 26. You have to go to the recorder of deeds’ office to find out about marriage licenses.
I don’t spend a lot of time there, and neither do most journalists — until news like this breaks. I’m not sure exactly what I expected to find. Maybe a bustling line of same-sex couples eager to get in the door and make a marriage official. Maybe I’d discover plans for an official legal ceremony.
Instead, I found pretty much nothing.
A couple of diligent government workers answering the phone. Yes, I did hold while they both took a call before addressing my questions.
History can wait, occasionally.
Platte County recorder of deeds Gloria Boyer was out to lunch. There were no customers there in person.
So back to the office I went with no news. I eventually spoke with Boyer later in the afternoon, and she confirmed that the county was ready to grant same-sex marriage licenses. Knowing a ruling was likely, she said her office did as much as possible to be ready for the transition.
Boyer and the recorder’s office were ready. Those looking to be the historic first couple in Platte County to receive a same-sex marriage license apparently were not. There were more calls from interested media members than people interested in taking advantage of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
As of Tuesday morning, Boyer still hadn’t received any, so I guess the wait goes on. And the more time we wait, the less newsworthy this becomes to me.
Could be a good thing.
The images were everywhere in the immediate aftermath of the 5-4 ruling to make same-sex marriages recognized in all 50 states. There were protests, celebrations, and yes, in some places those historic first marriages.
Just not here.
There aren’t too many weddings that would require press in Platte County. Matter of fact, I can’t think of one. I sure as heck don’t spend time on divorces.
Marriage, of course, is one of the oldest institutions around in our culture. They’re not news and does the union of a man to a man or a woman to a woman require any different treatment? Why should we treat it as a novelty? Is it something to gawk at like an animal in a zoo?
As the few days have passed, I find myself torn on this.
I’m sure just writing this column will raise a few eyebrows, and that’s OK. Adding some more coverage, especially visual, would likely lead to even more discussion and maybe a canceled subscription or two.
I’d hope not, but I also don’t underestimate the impact of this topic.
In the end, I’m not sure of how much attention this matter deserves, and I surely worry that the added attention could do more harm than good for those who wish to pursue a same-sex marriage in Platte County.
The first one will happen eventually here, and those names will be historic. But how much do we really need to know about them?
I don’t know the answer.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.