As marriage equality took effect in Minnesota on August 1, the state's largest newspaper granted a platform to anti-equality individuals voicing their concerns about a "deteriorating society," failing to mention the extreme anti-gay animus that motivated many of the state's most influential anti-equality groups and activists.
In an article posted on July 31, the Star Tribune examined the "ordinary" Minnesotans who were "quietly mourning" their state's marriage equality law. The article offered a sympathetic portrayal of several residents - including a senior couple estranged from their gay son - who, the paper suggested, are the victims of being "caught in the undertow of a wave of social change":
In the midst of the celebration about same-sex marriage, some Minnesotans are quietly mourning.
They are ordinary parishioners, neighbors down the street, co-workers in the elevator who steadfastly believe that marriage is meant solely for a man and a woman.
"I can't say we're bitter," said Tom O'Neill of Eagan. "We're disappointed. It's people saying, 'If it's good for me, I don't care about anyone else.' There's nothing that's intrinsically evil anymore."
"To me, the moral compass is disintegrating," added his wife, Mary. "Not just changing -- disintegrating."
Many in the group said they are angry with legislators who voted same-sex marriage into law. But they feel utterly betrayed by those politicians who, during the run-up to the November election, downplayed the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage as redundant because of the existing state law against such unions.
The article goes on to depict opponents of marriage equality as victims who have been "forced to accept something they believe is wrong":
Crosses to bear
What hurts them most about seeing society change around them? Being called bigots, they said. Feeling forced to accept something they believe is wrong.
"I have to accept that there are crosses in life," [local resident Kurian] Cherucheril said. "After all, you are following someone who died on a cross, who carried a cross. What do you expect in life? You will carry a cross at times. Yet we are people of hope."
Notably absent from the article is any mention whatsoever of the groups that led the fight against marriage equality in Minnesota, including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and Minnesota for Marriage (MFM). Both groups are notorious for promoting extreme and damaging smears about LGBT people, including conflating homosexuality with pedophilia and touting "ex-gay" therapy organizations.
Nor was there any mention of the blatant falsehoods about religious liberty and same-sex parenting that these groups and their supporters repeatedly touted in order to scare voters into opposing marriage equality.
During the fight over Minnesota's proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2012, the Star Tribune consistently failed to fact-check anti-equality horror stories or identify the extreme anti-gay animus motivating proponents of the amendment:
There's no doubt that many honest, reasonable Minnesotans have objections to the state's marriage equality law. But the Star Tribune's uncritical profile of the "group" of Minnesotans who oppose same-sex marriage provides a grossly inaccurate depiction of the history - and current reality - of anti-gay politics in the state.