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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hey Dallas Morning News: Same-Sex Marriage Announcements Belong in the Weddings Section

Targeting: Dallas Morning News, Mert Tezkol (Advertising Representative, Dallas Morning News), and Robert W. Mong Jr. (Editor)
Remember a few months ago when Dallas couple Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup got married over the Internet, in what many consider the first same-sex wedding over Skype? It was a beautiful new media moment, as the couple exchanged vows in front of family and friends in Dallas, with the help of an officiant in Washington, D.C. (where same-sex marriage is legal).
Mark and Dante traveled to D.C. again in December 2010 to tie the knot (a court ruled that their Skype marriage, while good for technology, had very little legal standing). They got officially married at the Jefferson Memorial, and now have a license letting them know that their marriage is legal and legit.
Mark and Dante want to have their same-sex wedding announced in the Dallas Morning News, their home city's daily newspaper. But while the Dallas Morning News says they'll run an announcement in their "Commitments" section, they're unwilling to run the announcement in the "Weddings" section. For the Dallas Morning News, the "Weddings" section is off limits for same-sex couples, even though five states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage.
The decision by the Dallas Morning News has prompted Mark and Dante to file a complaint with the city, suggesting that the paper is discriminating against gay couples. According to the Dallas Voice, the couple is using a city ordinance barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to make their case. Since wedding announcements are essentially paid advertisements, at least according to the couple, they ought to constitute a public accommodation and as such, the Dallas Morning News shouldn't segregate same-sex wedding announcements to a different section of the paper.
Send the Dallas Morning News a message that same-sex wedding announcements belong in the "Weddings" section. This could be a real teachable moment for the newspaper to follow in the footsteps of other papers that publish same-sex marriage announcements in the "Weddings" section.

petition text -

Dear Dallas Morning News

I recently learned that a same-sex couple in Dallas, Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup, tried to place an announcement of their wedding with your paper. While your paper said they would run the announcement in the "Commitments" section, the couple asked to have their announcement listed in the "Weddings" section. Yet your paper refused.

The justification that your paper gave in turning down the request to publish a same-sex marriage announcement in the "Weddings" section was that the state of Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage. But that's a reason I'd like to challenge. The New York Times publishes same-sex marriage announcements in their "Weddings" section, despite the fact that New York does not recognize same-sex marriage. Same goes for the Omaha World-Herald, even though Nebraska doesn't recognize same-sex marriage. And there are dozens of other newspapers around the country that fit into this category.

Five states and the District of Columbia do recognize same-sex marriage, and I'm sure a number of Dallas couples have been married in these locales. Shouldn't they have these legally recognized marriages printed in the Weddings section, where they belong?

I urge you to change this policy, and allow same-sex wedding announcements to be run in the "Weddings" section of your paper. It's the right thing to do, especially for one of the larger and more respected dailies in the entire country.

Thanks for your time.

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