The Washington Post’s internal ombudsman has unequivocally defended the newspaper’s decision to carry a front-page photo of a gay couple kissing.

The newspaper printed the image last week on the first day gay couples in the district were able to apply for marriage licences.

Couple Jeremy Ames and Taka Ariga are shown sharing a peck on the lips outside the DC Superior Court.

But Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander said that he had received complaints from readers over the last week.

He wrote: “A few of the readers have engaged in rants, often with anti-gay slurs. One called me to complain about ‘promoting a faggot lifestyle’. Another complained about the photo in an email to the two Post reporters who wrote Thursday’s story about the licences: ‘That kind of stuff makes normal people want to throw up’.”

At least 27 people cancelled their subscriptions over the front-page photo, Mr Alexander added.

Others said the image should not have been on the front page and one wrote that it should not have been shown “where my kids can see it easily on the kitchen table”.

After listing some of the complaints, Mr Alexander wrote: “Did the Post go too far? Of course not. The photo deserved to be in newspaper and on its website, and it warranted front-page display.

“News photos capture reality. And the prominent display reflects the historic significance of what was occurring. The recent DC Council decision to approve same-sex marriage was the culmination of a decades-long gay rights fight for equality.”