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Marriage Equality

Here's the note I sent staff Friday. I received many GIFs in reply.

Posted on

Chris Geidner in front of the Supreme Court on Friday, with the mic and the confused expression.

The Supreme Court ruling today — astonishing to me, as much as we all knew it was coming — marks the end, more or less, of a story that has helped define BuzzFeed as we've grown, and one that we should be proud of playing a big part in.

The shift in LGBT rights is obviously one of the massive stories of the decade, and marriage has been its central U.S. narrative. BuzzFeed has, from the start, been all over it: with scoops small and large, inspiring images from same-sex weddings way back when they felt brand-new and powerful images from the steps of the Supreme Court, collaborations between news and buzz (starting before they were distinct things), and the mix of intelligence and emotion that is central to what we do. We played a big role in this story, leading coverage when some of the more traditional media viewed it as a niche issue, and capturing its profound cultural power.

We've also expressed our values here in the most powerful way we can: by choosing where we focus our resources. Indeed, some of the most powerful reporting has focused — respectfully — on the voices of Americans who oppose marriage equality, from Matt Stopera's remarkable portraits of anti-marriage conservatives to Chris Geidner's and Rosie Gray's profiles of key foes of broadening marriage. This is a model for our coverage — both in the impact we can have and the way we can do it.

I wanted to add a special note here about Chris. I first ran across him because I had been, from about 2003, one of the handful of reporters covering the marriage fight pretty aggressively. That was, from my perspective, as much a matter of opportunism as anything else: It was a place I could get scoops on a story that seemed pretty important. I was able to get scoops, that is, until this reporter at Metro Weekly, a D.C. paper I can't say I was a regular reader of, came along and stole all my sources and beat me on every story. So, soon after I started at BuzzFeed, I hired him.

And Chris has been the defining reporter in America on this defining story, widely recognized as that. He breaks news constantly. He's as deeply engaged in the legal and political questions as any other journalist or lawyer in America (and he is both). He's worked both in incremental news and, occasionally, in giant steps back for analysis and for profiles, in a great editing collaboration with Katherine Miller. Among my favorites are the moving, human profiles of two key plaintiffs: Edie Windsor and Jim Obergefell, the latter at the center of today's ruling. All this while working a broader legal beat and emerging, here and externally, as an important voice on the Supreme Court.

Chris has also helped shape this place deeply, both by example and by his active nudging and strategizing and leadership — spotting talent, coordinating coverage of the Sochi games, being an early and insistent voice for diversity, and making clear again and again that we can beat everyone on the biggest stories in the country.

So hats off to Chris, and to the many, many people who have played important roles in covering and driving this story.


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