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Time’s new gay marriage covers: Too in your face or symbols of love?

Photos by Peter Hapak

With the U.S. Supreme Court currently in the middle of historic arguments over same-sex marriage, Time magazine has already decided the case with a provocative new cover – two of them, in fact.

Both covers feature close-up black and white photos of same-sex couples kissing: Sarah Kate and Kristen Ellis Henderson, who have been married for two years, and, in the other photo, Russell Hart and Eric Labonté, who are engaged.

Different lip locks, but the same headline: "Gay marriage already won. The Supreme Court hasn't made up its mind – but America has."

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The covers were the subject of much debate in Time's offices, as Poynter's Andrew Beaujon reports.

Time's managing editor wrote in an editor's note that, "Some thought they were very sensationalist and too in-your-face. Others felt the images were beautiful and symbolized the love that is at the heart of the idea of marriage. I agree with the latter, and I hope you do too."

But as the Atlantic Wire's Jen Doll asks, are photographs of same-sex couples kissing really sensationalist? "Would such a debate have existed over a cover featuring heterosexual couples kissing?"

With the U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments over the constitutionality of the Defence of Marriage Act, which among other things restricts federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples, it seems clear both that, contrary to provocative headlines, gay marriage has not already won, and that there are many people who may think these covers are definitely sensationalist.

Time has been pushing all sorts of cultural buttons with its covers lately. Who could forget this one?

These covers obviously grab attention and (potentially) stir debate.

What do you think of the new Time covers? Sensationalist or harmless symbols of love?

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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