They say a photo is worth a thousand words. This one spawned thousands more. The Kiss.

On Aug. 1, the first day in the history of Minnesota that gay couples could marry, we covered it the way we would any big news story. We published a large front-page photo of a widely known Winona State University professor and respected gay rights activist kissing her longtime partner shortly after they were married — one of the first couples in the region to do so.

Readers’ reaction to the photo, which also ran on the cover of the La Crosse Tribune, surprised me.

Not the regular interruptions to any meaningful discourse on the topic. One commenter on the online version of the story said it made them want to puke. Another said they hoped a virus would rid the world of gay people. And I’ve received more than a few hand-written letters in the past year matter-of-factly notifying me I’ll be spending eternity in hell for the stories the paper has published on gay marriage.

Fine. Nothing new.

What surprised me were the number of responses from thoughtful people who downright didn’t like looking at the photo. Couldn’t believe we printed the thing, let alone so large.

It bothered them. Quite a bit. Enough to talk about it, which is saying quite a bit for a collection of Midwesterners with stiff upper lips.

They couldn’t quite figure their reaction. They didn’t know how to talk about it. So they stumbled over their words, one by one, until each eventually stuttered a hastily-considered explanation that the photo appeared to violate the couple’s privacy.

Ignoring, of course, the historic nature of the event. Ignoring, also, the clarity and intimacy of the photos and story, produced by Daily News reporters personally invited to attend.

Pun intended, let’s be straight: They just didn’t like looking at a photo of two women kissing.

Ick.

Right?

Turns out we still have work to do.

That’s no surprise.

Gay people can marry in Minnesota.

Women can hold the same jobs as men.

Blacks can sip from the same drinking fountains as whites.

But only a fool would climb a mountain to proclaim the age of universal equality has begun.

We have work to do.

General Mills, a homegrown Minnesota company, released an ad last month featuring a girl worried about her father’s heart enough to dump Cheerios on his lap while he napped. Good for a laugh and a reminder to hit the gym — except that her mother was white and father black, her skin some undefined in-between. The controversy crossed oceans.

Black man, white woman? Black woman, white man? Asian man, white woman? Vice and vice and vice versa? Sure, it’s all legal now.

But:

Ick.

One of the most celebrated photos of American history is the shot of a sailor passionately kissing a woman in August 1945.

It’s loosely titled Victory Over Japan Day in Times Square, but everybody calls it something else: The Kiss.

The photo celebrates victory despite impossible odds. The war’s over. We won. The photo celebrates love made possible by a long and bitter fight for freedom. It is the very symbol of love, a proven historical record of the ability of love to conquer all knowable odds and yet somehow always surprise.

Everyone knows that photo. It has hung in dorm rooms and living rooms from San Francisco to New York for nearly 70 years. It has been replicated across history, across culture, in novels and movies and soap operas, in Christmas ads for jewelry and luxury cars. In family engagement and wedding photos, the tattered and yellow keepsakes we pass along for generations as the only definitive keepsakes we can carry with us as proof that we have known, or at least seen, the possibility of the kind of love that leads to lifetime commitment.

Replicated without conflict. Without discussion. Without ick.

We sense, intuitively, the love between a white man and a white woman kissing. We always have. It’s as cliche as the photo.

We understand, intellectually, the love between a black woman and a white man kissing. We’re headed toward cliche, slow as hell, but headed there.

But the love between a woman and a woman kissing, a man and a man?

We have work to do.

There’s something about familiarity that breeds hate.

There’s something about familiarity that breeds discomfort.

There’s something about familiarity that brings comfort.

Thankfully, it usually always comes in that order.

Last week’s photo showed that the familiarity is here to stay. Here to prove itself.

It bred some hate and quite a bit of discomfort.

Not a lot of comfort. Not yet.

We all know gay and lesbian couples. The problem is most of us don’t know it, not yet.

That’s going to change, one at a time.

One printed marriage license, one conversation.

One candid captured display of affection.

Most of us are not ready to frame The Kiss and hang it on our living-room walls as a declaration of enduring love.

But we’re ready for discussion. Ready for conflict.

With the hope, the patience, the understanding that one day comfort will come.

Brian Voerding is editor of the Daily News.

(80) comments

Lorraine
Lorraine

I, too, was merely stating a Biblical fact.

justpat
justpat

If my mother/father and I were in love with each other, should we be able to get married to each other? Or my son/daughter and I? Or my granddaughter/son and I? Or my uncle/aunt and I? All of you who condone and encourage marriage rights for homosexuals surely wouldn't have a problem with any of these pairings, would you? And if you do I have to ask what's the difference? Love is love no matter who it is.

David Jarzemski
David Jarzemski

justpat, you presented the gay rights crowd a brilliant argument against their position on same sex marriage. I can tell you that I have previously stated similar views but they never have a cogent retort. All they eventually come up with are name calling and insults, which are sure signs of a losing argument.

FUBAR
FUBAR

"I can tell you that I have previously stated similar views but they never have a cogent retort"

Because it is a stupid comparison. If you can't see the difference between this perv "justpat" wanting to marry his/her granddaughter and to non-related men getting married you are just to far gone to ration with.

And yes I used the name calling on purpose.

David Jarzemski
David Jarzemski

FUBAR, just a few short years ago, homosexuals were called 'pervs' too, as you now label other disordered couplings. Wait a few years and the courts will permit those disordered couplings, just like they are now beginning to allow same sex couplings.

I predict bigamy will be the first one to be OK'ed by the courts, since they have similar arguments to same sex couples.

Mike Hammer
Mike Hammer

Brian Voerding, you make me tired. In fact, ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Lorraine
Lorraine

Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. Genesis 5:2

And did not He make one? Yet had He the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That He might seek a Godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the the wife of his youth. Malachi 2:15

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

20 “But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin,
21 then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her 1to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father’s house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you.

Deut. 22:20--21

Do you pick and choose your bible verses, Lorraine? How do you feel about stoning?

beagle
beagle

Some of these comments are pretty pathetic-- filled with ignorance, fear, hate, and prejudice.

David, Lorraine, Hank, Pat, Lefse, and Retired-- HELLO: I am talking to YOU.

You refer to the LGBTQ community and us supporters as "homos" and "Godless perverts." You insist that males and females are here to procreate.
You compare us to child molesters and insist we must be guilty of incestuous relationships.

Tell me how you know all of this and where you find your information.

Also, please let me know how Jesus would feel about you for saying these things, because apparently you have a close relationship with God.

I am not being snarky; I am merely asking you to explain yourselves. I just want to know why you are so much better, deserving, hard-working, smarter, happier, religious, and American than the rest of us.

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

Dear Beagle - I will be snarky for you. My former brother in-in-law-has been with his partner longer than any other marriage in our family. My beloved brother in law and his partner have been people I directed my children to look up to. My kids have been with these guys for better than 30 years. It is very difficult to read these posts. They are directed against my family.

HankRearden
HankRearden

Your family is a freak-show.

JBirdiePP
JBirdiePP

Hank must take it up the Rearden

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

Freak show? Nah - I don't think so. My family reflects the demographics of the US in 2013: Gay, straight, married, unmarried, Swedish immigrant, Latina, technical degree, BA, MA, PhD, male, female, Northerner, Southerner, etc. Shall I go on? I will use the word you commonly use: You are a MORON!

Gram2jalen
Gram2jalen

JBirdiePP...Your comment just made me laugh. Even though this is no laughing matter...You people are so narrow minded that it amazes me. "God fearing Christians" that are so mean and hateful towards others. I bet you're only God fearing Christians when you go to church for that short time (IF you even go) or when you are confronted with something that you're just downright ignorant about.

David Jarzemski
David Jarzemski

beagle, same sex attraction is disordered. If that was not so, there would be a so called 'gay' gene. None has been found, even though the gay community is desperate to find one, to justify their disorder.

Monteee
Monteee

David, same-sex attraction is a natural variation in the human species. As you have no understanding of biology, this concept is over your head. As you have been indoctrinated to blindly follow man-made superstitions and ideas of how human beings are supposed to live, you will never be able to grasp just how wrong you are.

David Jarzemski
David Jarzemski

Monteee, you need to be informed that I am well aware of the science on these matters. In fact, I have a background, including a college degree in these fields, specifically Chemistry.

Same sex attraction is NOT a so called 'natural variation' in humans. It is a disorder. To prove it is a disorder, just ponder how same sex couples consummate their relationship. The parts just do not fit.

If the first man and first woman had been homosexuals, the human race would have died out right then and there, or shortly thereafter.

A wise God in combination with a wise Mother Nature, has decided that a 1 man 1 woman coupling is the only sure way to propagate the species.

Oh, you could also have said that incest is a natural variation too. Ditto for relationships with more than 1 man or 1 woman.

Monteee
Monteee

David (below), you should stick to chemistry, because you don't know squat about biology.

If you knew anything about biology, you would know that marriage is an UNNATURAL act. Males and females of many if not most animal species (especially Homo sapiens) procreate as much as possible, with many different partners, in order to continue the species. As males are predisposed to mate with as many different females as possible, the "one man, one woman" relationship is a hindrance to them. Marriage is a disordered coupling, as it severely restricts a male from distributing his offspring.

"One man, one woman"......you're omitting the many, many millions of extra wives, concubines and slave women from the past, and you're omitting all the extra wives, mistresses, girlfriends and hookers of today. Your "one man, one woman" worldview is a LIE.

Monteee
Monteee

There is no "hetero" gene, either. Genetics are not the end-all, be-all of human biology. Research suggests that hormones play a significant role in determining a child's sexuality, especially during the fetal stage of pregnancy, where brain structure can be altered.

There is no scientific concensus on what exactly causes a person to be heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. The concensus does suggest that a combination of factors - genetics, hormones, very early childhood - determine a person's sexuality.

HankRearden
HankRearden

It's a disordered "BEHAVIOR". That's the important thing to realize. There is no gay-gene, it's simply a behavior. We should not give government recognition to groups of people for disordered behaviors.

JBirdiePP
JBirdiePP

Everyone should watch this:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/10/choose-to-be-straight-video-_n_3247301.html

justpat
justpat

I'm sure you lumped me in there by mistake. Nothing in my comment was "filled with ignorance, fear, hate, and prejudice." I was merely stating a biological fact. Sorry if you were offended by that. And I didn't see any comments from people who said they were "so much better, deserving, hard-working, smarter, happier, religious, and American than the rest of us." You condemn a group of people for making assumptions about the homosexuals but it's okay for you to make assumptions about them? Sounds rather hypocritical.

David Jarzemski
David Jarzemski

To oppose same sex marriage is not, and never will be bigoted or hateful. It is no different than opposing incestuous marriages or bigamy or any number of disordered relationships.

Cassandra
Cassandra

"Disordered relationships"? What clinical expertise do you have to define Gay relationships that way? Just a bigoted opinion. Thankfully the world is changing and dinosaurs such as yourself are a dying minority.

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

Cheers to the dying minority!

Check the facts
Check the facts

Cheers!

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

It is bigoted and hateful. You are bigoted and hateful. You don't get it.

justpat
justpat

Humans were created in (or evolved into) 2 distinctly different forms-male and female. Whatever your beliefs concerning God or bigotry the biological facts can't be disputed. Homosexual acts go against nature.

Monteee
Monteee

If you truly understood nature and all the facts about biology, you wouldn't be making such ignorant comments.

Every species experiences variation. Human beings are no exception. Some are born sterile, some are born as hermaphrodites, and some are born as homosexuals. Some males are born with feminine traits, and some females are born with masculine traits. Like you said, biological facts cannot be disputed.

You be sure to condemn all the heterosexual people you know for engaging in oral and anal sex. They're going against nature, right? Do you also go against nature in the privacy of your home?

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

What is 'nature'? Nature doesn't control us. If it did, we would all be living in caves for about 6 months a year. We, as human beings, have figured out how to deal with nature. We live in houses that are heated with Excel or Dairyland or wood of something. This is an inane argument.

Cassandra
Cassandra

Aww, the poor homophobes were made "uneasy." Imagine how the people who are discriminated against every day must feel.

Lorraine
Lorraine

Yes, it is definitely true that we are all of only one race! However -- we were created male and female to bring forth Godly offspring.

FUBAR
FUBAR

OH BOY! So what do you say to your GOD that made many males and females of the world without the ability to "bring forth Godly offspring"? What is their purpose? Why did God make a woman who can't have babies in the first place? Why does your GOD kill many of his "Godly offspring" with miscarriages and still berths? Why does your GOD riddle young "Godly offsprings" with cancer? I will put my faith in two men getting married and being happy human beings than your heartless God who demands your worship. And one last question, if we were created to "bring forth Godly offspring" why then the most Godly, respected, and giving women of the Catholic Church (Nuns) not allowed to marry and "bring forth Godly offspring"? You would think that God would want some of his best minions bringing forth many other minions?

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

Right On, Fubar!!!

Check the facts
Check the facts

Well said.

Gram2jalen
Gram2jalen

well said, Fubar

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

No Lorraine - We were evolved to experience pleasure. The more pleasure the better. If it happened a child wsa born from the pleasure - BONUS!!!

David Jarzemski
David Jarzemski

RemoteEmployee , and with that naive philosophy was born many STD's, including AIDS.

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

Yup. And people will continue to seek pleasure. Go downtown La Crosse tonight. I wonder how many STDs will be shared. Do you have any pleasure, David?

Slider
Slider

I think the WDN was attempting to equate their picture with the famous World War 2 picture featuring sailor and a lady on the streets of NYC. What a terrible reach.

The good news is that when the WDN puts that in the paper the only thing a subscriber can do is to cancel their subscription as I did.

Cassandra
Cassandra

You can ignore reality and cancel your subscription, but the world will continue to advance while you molder away in your denial.

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

You are a sad person, Slider. You need to get out more.

JBirdiePP
JBirdiePP

Too bad we can't cancel you, Slider.

You suck

Gram2jalen
Gram2jalen

LOL JBirdiePP you're cracking me up here in this otherwise hateful "Ick" fest

HankRearden
HankRearden

The perv pics were gratuitous and disgusting.

frichadaran
frichadaran

What a coincidence! We find your bigotry and prejudice gratuitous and disgusting as well. The real perversion here is the fact that a segment of the population thinks it's their business to pass judgment on complete strangers who have never and will never do them any harm, and attempt to make that judgment into law. Shame on you and your kind.

HankRearden
HankRearden

Um, no. We simply don't want up to be down, wrong to be right...

This is going to cost BILLIONS of dollars now that we have to give benefits to homo government "workers".

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

Please don't feed the trolls.

Check the facts
Check the facts

Many, many workers already had benefits regardless of orientation. For example, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney as governors both supported same-sex partner benefits. Why don't you go complain to them. Darn republicans.

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

The picture of the 9, (count 'em), Tea Partiers at the Post Office, reflected a bunch of pervs being gratuitous and disgusting.

lefse
lefse

A kiss is one thing, but one only needs to look at the pics of the Gay Pride Parades in San Francisco to know what is coming to the rest of the nation. It's not just a kiss that is shared with the public. It's overt sexually provocative displays of homosexuality, nudity, big time ICK! This is carried out on public streets without interference by law enforcement or any government authorities. Party On !

Yes, there is more work to do, Mr. Voerding, and that includes acting respectful of others in order to gain respect.

Monteee
Monteee

>>>It's not just a kiss that is shared with the public. It's overt sexually provocative displays of homosexuality, nudity, big time ICK!<<

But it's just fine when the heterosexual majority makes such displays, isn't it? Girls dress half-naked and go clubbing, people get drunk and naked during Octoberfest, Mardi Gras, etc. Ever attend the Burning Man festival in Nevada? There's a nice display of "weirdness" for ya......

lefse
lefse

Let me know the next time hundreds or thousands of people are running around naked or exposing themselves during the PUBLIC Oktoberfest parade/activities while the police stand around doing nothing. Maybe then we'll have an intelligent debate.

Cassandra
Cassandra

Just watch "reality" TV for it.

Monteee
Monteee

Strip joints.
Prostitutes on street corners.
Streakers.
Nude beaches.
Drunk guys and girls stripping half-naked at Packer games in January, just to get on camera.
Carnival in Brazil.....where MILLIONS enjoy great debauchery.

But you go ahead and focus on a couple of gay pride parades. That's real intelligent....NOT.

TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls
TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls

Apparently Lefse lives a sheltered life and is unaware of things such as spring break parties on public beaches, pageants with swim suit competitions, wet t-shirt contests, and the assortment of possibly offensive things people of different orientations participate in.

retiredone
retiredone

One quote was right-Makes me want to puke when I see the photo.

FUBAR
FUBAR

I bet you printed it and posted the photo all over your house. The ones that fight against gay marriage the most are usually the ones that had that one time "experience" on a warm summer day with their best friend while at summer camp.

retiredone
retiredone

Fubar-are you speaking from your personal experience?

FUBAR
FUBAR

Just from the personal experience of knowing guys like you....Funny, you never denied that that warm summer day never happened to you. Huuuummmm

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

retiredone - you are kind of creepy. Just sayin'

Cassandra
Cassandra

I'm always fascinated by how often the anti-gay crowd thinks about (obsesses, actually) gay sex, even though they claim to be disgusted. It really aligns with all the wing nut "family values" types who get caught with their pants down in public restrooms or highway rest areas.

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

Yeah. What is up with that whole 'conservatives obsessed with gay stuff' and then they end up getting arrested ? There are a number of them.

RemoteEmployee
RemoteEmployee

Puke away, retiredone - I puke when I see you (or read your posts). Good job!

Seriously Now
Seriously Now

It is said that some people are not so much disturbed by the concept of same-sex couples and how they physically express their love.

David Jarzemski
David Jarzemski

To oppose same sex marriage is not, and never will be bigoted or hateful. It is no different than opposing incestuous marriages or bigamy or any number of disordered relationships.

Cassandra
Cassandra

"Disordered relationships"? What clinical expertise do you have to define Gay relationships that way? Just a bigoted opinion. Thankfully the world is changing and dinosaurs such as yourself are a dying minority.

FUBAR
FUBAR

To "oppose" other people's happiness is hateful and wrong. My best friend married a huge disgusting fat chick and I didn't "oppose" his marrying her and his happiness. We all have different tastes and likes and to keep people from enjoying their likes and tastes is downright disgusting. And to refer to gay marriage as a "disordered relationship" shows your bigotry. 50% of "regular" marriages end in divorce....sounds "disordered" to me.

HankRearden
HankRearden

But you are preaching to a bunch of disordered, brainwashed, Godless perverts on here.

rosesforever
rosesforever

I think that it is so sad that people (especially those who say they are Christian) are so willing to hate and want bad things to happen to people that don't look, think, worship and feel the way they do. I actually am a Minnesota resident and am so happy that gay couples can now have a legal marriage. I also saw the commercial commented on above and was really happy to see that we had reached a point that a well known company would feel comfortable showing a married couple that was of different races....sorry to hear we aren't that compassionate or fair minded.

Badgerocker
Badgerocker

Hello it is 2013 - times and people have changed..............................either deal with it or ignore it ........your choice...............I grew up in the 1960's and visted the South where it said Colored ONLY for drinking and bathrooms.............and Wnite ONLY.................and saw a bus driver shut the door in the face of an elderly black woman because she did not board the bus fast enough..................

Monteee
Monteee

Badgerocker, I agree with everything you said, but I must add that the family in the Cheerios commercial were of one race - the human race. The only difference between the mother, father and child was the colors of their skin.

This is one of the biggest mistakes that our media and government can do - promote the idea of different races of people. It is a biological fact that we are all of one race.

Monteee
Monteee

Sorry....I was replying to "rosesforever", not Badgerocker. I hit the wrong Reply button....D'OH!!

chuckwelch
chuckwelch

I wonder how many of those who commented lived in the area and used their real names? I'm guessing precious few.

Too many people are willing to spew hate and bile as long as they are able to hide behind a pseudonym.

Comments follow Sturgeon's Law. They'll stay that way until newspapers return to their old policy of requiring real names when writing letters to the editor-- including the 21st century equivalent -- the comment.

serena
serena

I have not nor will ever have a problem with this.. and I am bringing up my daughter with the same mind set. NO ONE can control who they love and NOONE has a right 2 tell man kind who they can and can not marry. and anyone against it might as well say our solders had and is fighting for nothing. this country is sopost 2 be about equalty (sorry spelling) and wether you are gay or not is apart of that. and people who bring hate to this mader needs 2 remember that old saying if you don't have nothing nice 2 say DONT SAY ANYTHING! I SAY GOOD 4 ALL GAYS you should have the right 2 marry IN WISCONSIN AS WELL AS MINN. and anywhere in this world. there are other things out there that we should be focusing our anger on like bullying and that's all people are doing is bullying the gays! and as a straight woman I feel strongly on this. if my daughter ended up being gay I would soport her as well and I no dam well all the haters out there would do the same if it was your kid. and you no im right...

spirit3
spirit3

Bravo!

Monteee
Monteee

>>>And I’ve received more than a few hand-written letters in the past year matter-of-factly notifying me I’ll be spending eternity in hell for the stories the paper has published on gay marriage.<<

Hand-written letters? That rules out 99% of all younger people.....LOL.

FUBAR
FUBAR

Great point Monteee, these old school Gay haters still use type writers. I just don't understand how some of these religious gay bashers with all their hatred and name calling could ever be allowed into Heaven? I am feeling pretty good about myself if those hate filled people can make it.

Monteee
Monteee

If such homophobes and bigots are in Heaven, then I'd rather stay down here, thanks....;-)

Gram2jalen
Gram2jalen

Again...well said, Fubar.
I agree with Monteee, too

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