Most Papers Lack Policies On Same-Sex Unions

By: Carl Sullivan

Updated at 9:25 a.m. EST

When The New York Times announced that it will accept same-sex union announcements on its Sunday “Weddings” pages beginning this month, gay-rights advocates applauded while opponents jeered. But for once, the often precedent-setting Times was behind the times.

Thirty-six of the top 100 daily newspapers already accepted such announcements — at least in theory. As The Boston Globe pointed out last week, there’s a “patchwork of hazy policies, or a lack of them” at major newspapers. “Even where announcements of same-sex unions are accepted, such notices rarely, if ever, appear,” reported the Globe, which is reviewing its own policy of not publishing the notices.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) counts 111 newspapers with “inclusive” policies, including such giants as The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, and such dwarves as The Daily Telegram in Superior, Wis. Some run free announcements; others only accept paid notices.

The Los Angeles Times doesn’t run marriage announcements of any kind in its editorial space, but produces a section twice a year for paid wedding and engagement notices. “We would accept gay-union announcements if they were in good taste and complied with our ad standards,” said David Garcia, a spokesman.

The Arizona Republic in Phoenix doesn’t have a policy. “There’s been a kind of unwritten understanding that we would not publish them,” said Managing Editor Randy Lovely. “If we had a request from the community, we would look at the issue. We’re not inclined to come out with some grand policy statement like the Times did when the reality is that it doesn’t seem to be a huge need or desire in our community.”

Nonetheless, Robert Dodge, president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, praised the Times‘ decision as “a beacon for other major news organizations.” Separately, GLAAD embarked on a one-year campaign to double the number of papers on its “inclusive” list.

(The Times ran its first same-sex union announcement on Sunday, Sept. 1. See http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/01/fashion/weddings/01GROS.html.)

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