The Washington Post’s ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, reported today that an unusual number of readers have complained and canceled subscriptions over the publishing of a photo of two men kissing on the front page.

The photo, above, shows two men in a light kiss, celebrating the day that DC started accepting applications for marriage licenses for gay couples.

Many of the readers used anti-gay slurs, Andrews said. Twenty-seven subscribers canceled. One emailed one of the reporters who worked on the story to say: “That kind of stuff makes normal people want to throw up. People have kids who are being exposed to this crap. I will be glad when your rag goes out of business. Real men marry women.”

But Andrews said:

"Did the Post go too far? Of course not. The photo deserved to be in newspaper and on its Web site, and it warranted front-page display."

"News photos capture reality. And the prominent display reflects the historic significance of what was occurring. The recent D.C. Council decision to approve same-sex marriage was the culmination of a decades-long gay rights fight for equality. Same-sex marriage is now legal in the District. The photo of [Jeremy] Ames and [Taka] Ariga kissing simply showed joy that would be exhibited by any couple planning to wed – especially a couple who previously had been denied the legal right to marry."

"There was a time, after court-ordered integration, when readers complained about front-page photos of blacks mixing with whites. Today, photo images of same-sex couples capture the same reality of societal change."

Kudos to Andrews and the Post.