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This incredibly offensive and inaccurate headline appeared on CNN.com on Monday: “Ellen DeGeneres ‘marries’ Portia Rossi.” There was, of course, nothing pretend about the marriage–DeGeneres and de Rossi wed in California over the weekend. I personally don’t think that a marriage’s legal status is what should confer legitimacy on the union–I wouldn’t use scare quotes to call into question the legitimacy of a marriage between consenting adults in any state. But I really can’t imagine how anyone at CNN could perceive those quotes as ethical or accurate when the marriage in question was entirely legal.
The editors at CNN.com apparently came to the same conclusion because they changed their headline later in the morning to “Ellen DeGeneres reportedly weds Portia Rossi.” Hopefully, the original headline was the work of an individual that slipped through the editorial cracks, instead of the more troubling possibility that it was approved for publication by several sets of eyes. Either way, it should never have appeared. It should have sent up an armada of red flags to anyone who saw it. And the fact that it didn’t immediately do so suggests a culture–if not of overt homophobia, then of a tendency to advance socially conservative and discriminatory narratives about family life.