We the people

A periodic photo column exploring our constitutional rights in everyday action.      

Published April 29, 2007

First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom ... of the press."  

On a March Saturday, just after midnight, the news media surrounded Steve Stanton in Largo City Hall with video cameras recording, still cameras clicking, microphones pushed forward. City commissioners had voted to fire Stanton as city manager after his plans for a sex change were leaked to the press. Many Largo residents expressed disdain for Stanton. Supporters responded with their own outrage over the City Council's actions. Media attention exploded. For Stanton, coverage was bittersweet. He lost his sense of privacy. "All the intimate details of my life appeared on the front page of the newspaper, " said Stanton, 48. "Typically, journalists don't have the inclination to educate themselves to the story. There tends to be a more superficial focus on this type of an issue." At the same time, his ordeal created a public debate about transgender rights. "The positive side ... it really put a very human face on something that happens behind closed doors."