New Hampshire Paper Won't Print Gay Couple's Marriage Announcement
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- The state's largest newspaper is coming under fire for its refusal to print a wedding announcement for a gay couple getting married this weekend in Portsmouth.
Manchester native Greg Gould said the day same-sex marriage became legal in New Hampshire was a proud one for him.
"It sort of highlighted all our values we had when we grew up -- individual thinking, independence," he said.
Despite now living in New York, Gould and his soon-to-be husband, Aurelio Tine, set a wedding date for Saturday in Portsmouth and hired a wedding planner to help out.
"There are still a lot of nerve-wracking challenges that any couple faces when they get married," Gould said.
But he said one challenge they didn't expect came from the state's largest newspaper. The couple said the New Hampshire Union Leader told them that since it was a same-sex marriage, the paper would not print the announcement.
"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 said.
Gould took his complaint to the publisher of the paper, but to no avail. On Friday, the Union Leader released a statement saying: "This newspaper has never published wedding or engagement announcements from homosexual couples. 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."
Wedding planner Kate Parker said the decision left her flabbergasted.
"To me, as a planner, it's just a wedding, a wedding between two people," Parker said. "So let them celebrate it."
Parker blogged about Gould and Tine's story on her website, and she said she was stunned by the dozens of responses.
"It's pretty amazing to see a state that can be known as somewhat conservative to be so supportive," she said.
In its written statement, the Union Leader said it is not anti-gay, but has a constitutional right to print or not print whatever it wants.
Gould said he doesn't see that as an adequate response.
"To specifically exclude same sex-couple's wedding announcements is particularly vindictive," he said.
Mo Baxley, executive director of New Hampshire Freedom to Marry, said she was saddened by the Union Leader's policy but "hardly surprised."
"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," Baxley said in a written statement.
Baxley said her group supports freedom of the press, saying it's vital to a free and democratic society.
"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," Baxley said. "We send our congratulations to Greg and Aurelio."
The couple said they have contacted gay and lesbian groups regarding the issue, and they said they are examining their options.
STATEMENT FROM THE UNION LEADER:
"This newspaper has never published wedding or engagement announcements from homosexual couples. 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, and our opposition to the recent state law legalizing gay marriage.
That law was not subject to public referendum and the governor (John Lynch) who signed it was elected after telling voters that he was opposed to gay marriage. Indeed, in no state where the public has been allowed a direct vote on the subject has gay marriage prevailed.
We are not "anti-gay." We are for marriage remaining the important man-woman institution it has always been.
While the law sanctions gay marriage, it neither demands that churches perform them or that our First Amendment right to choose what we print be suspended. In accordance with that right, we continue our longstanding policy of printing letters to the editor from New Hampshire citizens, whether or not they agree with us."
-Joseph W. McQuaid Publisher
Sooo disappointed right now. I hope the backlash against the paper grows- we are a blue state and should support those who decide to take advantage of that laws that make our state special. That's the New Hampshire way- Live free or die.