NH Newspaper Refuses Gay Marriage Announcement

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday October 25, 2010

A New Hampshire native returning home to wed his same-sex life partner got a jolt when the state's largest local newspaper declined to run his wedding announcement.

Greg Gould told New Hampshire television news station WMUR that marriage equality fit right into the state's values. "It sort of highlighted all our values we had when we grew up--individual thinking, independence," Gould said. But the Union Leader didn't seem to share that point of view--and refused to run the announcement of Gould's wedding to Aurelio Tine.

"I was really disappointed because the Union Leader is a big voice in the state of New Hampshire, and they seem to be so out of touch," Gould told the news station.

"This newspaper has never published wedding or engagement announcements from homosexual couples," a statement issued by the Union Leader said. "It would be hypocritical of us to do so, given our belief that marriage is and needs to remain a social and civil structure between men and women." The newspaper's statement said cited constitutional guarantees regarding freedom of speech.

Gould responded to that by saying that as a newspaper, the Union Leader has an obligation to report on events and happenings. Gould suggested that his wedding would qualify. "To specifically exclude same sex-couple's wedding announcements is particularly vindictive," Gould said.

Gould's wedding planner, Kate Parker, talked about the newspaper's refusal on her blog and got messages of support from readers around the state. "It's pretty amazing to see a state that can be known as somewhat conservative to be so supportive," Gould told WMUR.

"The Union Leader's opposition to gays and lesbians being treated equally under the law is no secret to those of us that live in New Hampshire," said New Hampshire Freedom to Marry's Mo Baxley in a statement. Still, Baxley said, "We defend the constitutional rights of all, even those we disagree with, and look forward to a time when all New Hampshire families are celebrated."

EDGE's national news editor, Michael K. Lavers, who grew up in Manchester, N.H., expressed no surprise at the development. "It is not at all surprising the Union Leader decided not to publish this couple's wedding announcement," said Lavers. "The newspaper's conservative--and even anti-gay--editorial positions are widely known. While unfortunate, the newspaper's decision should not surprise anyone."

The issue has been addressed in other conservative states. Nebraska's Omaha World-Herald began to accept same-sex wedding announcements in late August, following an earlier refusal to run an announcement for the commitment ceremony of a lesbian couple, according to a Sept. 2 Associated Press story.

In late September, Teaneck, N.J. weekly publication the New Jersey Jewish Standard published its first same-sex wedding announcement, prompting condemnation from Orthodox rabbis. In response, reported New Jersey Jewish News on Oct. 20, the Jewish Standard apologized for the "pain and consternation" that the notice had occasioned, saying that it would subsequently refrain from running announcements of same-sex nuptials.

But that apology unleashed an even bigger backlash: "The Standard's website was swamped with hundreds of comments overwhelmingly in support of same-sex wedding announcements," reported the New Jersey Jewish News. "The Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism put out a statement in support of a 'free press' and declared that 'no single sector of the Jewish community may decide for all what is an acceptable practice.' " The Jewish Standard then opened up a conversation about homosexuality and related issues.

Gould and Tine live in New York. Although the Empire State does not grant marriage equality itself, New York state agencies do recognize same-sex marriages granted in other jurisdictions.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.