Miami Herald Ombudsman Defends Pro-LGBT Editorials

A nice write-up this weekend by Miami Herald ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos defending the Herald’s perceived pro-LGBT bias on the editorial page. To Schumacher-Matos, the perception is true and that it reflects the paper’s readership.

I agree with Editorial Page Editor Myriam Marquez when she told me: “What we run is pretty much a reflection of what this community is. It is very gay tolerant.”

While state laws and regulations are among the least gay friendly in the nation, local ordinances in Dade and Broward Counties are the opposite, supporting inheritance benefits for same-sex partners, for example.

Schumacher-Matos said that it was important to reflect dissenting voices and reinforced that just because something is popular–and LGBT rights may be popular in South Florida–doesn’t mean it is right. In this case, however, the ombudsman said the paper was striking the proper balance.

If morality is important in guiding the newspaper — and I think it is — then this means that the newspaper is morally obliged to be more concerned about its impact on gays in our community than on those whose life choice is to restrict them.

To be sure, the opposition to gay rights must be respected. These readers’ views are rooted in religion (though religious interpretations are changing) and in strong social and family traditions, particularly among older generations. A newspaper that is too far in front of its community will lose that community. Change is often best nudged to avoid violent cleavage, which is itself a moral imperative.

Polls, however, show that young people overwhelmingly approve of expanding gay rights. We as a society may now be reaching a tipping point. If so, what most of us define as moral — as the right thing to do — will take another turn. We will abhor any thought of restricting someone because of their sexual orientation.

There is no need for false-balance, but editorial pages are supposed to have a point of view and the Herald‘s point of view is that LGBT rights and issues should be respected. The ombudsman was careful to point out that the news pages have a different guiding principle than the opinion pages, but that he didn’t find cause for concern in the Herald‘s advocacy on behalf of minority rights.

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