Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Erased from the obituary: why it matters

From the Advocate:
An Arkansas newspaper that omitted the name of a gay man’s surviving partner from his obituary has apologized and agreed to reprint the obit — with the partner’s name — after receiving pressure from groups including the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

When John Christopher Millican died June 11, his partner of 10 years, Terrance James, filled out paperwork to have his obituary run in the local paper, The Batesville Daily Guard. When the obit was published, however, it did not include James’s name, but it did list Millican’s deceased parents and surviving siblings, with whom he had little contact, according to the Center for Artistic Revolution, an Arkansas gay rights group.

James complained, but an editor for the Daily Guard told him the paper has a policy against printing names of unmarried partners and cited the fact that Arkansas does not recognize same-sex unions. She told him, however, that the paper would run a paid obituary for $85 that would include any information he wanted.
You might say that since the paper applies this policy regardless, it shouldn't be forced to change. But the PROBLEM is that gay people aren't ALLOWED to marry. They aren't unmarried by choice, unlike unmarried cohabiting straights. So they AREN'T being treated equally.

You can't criticize us for not being married if you won't allow us to marry.

Although the paper had, under pressure, agreed to re-run the obit, the latest news says they reneged and moreover, used the opportunity to attack th grieving widower:
An Arkansas newspaper that omitted the name of a gay man’s surviving partner from his obituary has apparently gone back on its promise to reprint the obit with the partner’s name included, and it has published an editorial that gay rights groups characterize as defaming the partner, Terrance James.

The Daily Guard’s Friday editorial... lambastes James and attacks his motives. ....

A post Friday on GLAAD’s blog reads, “Now the paper has not only backtracked on the promises their spokesman and attorney made to us just yesterday, they’ve dug in their heels even deeper. And rather than printing a respectful obituary as promised, the paper is using its pages to insult Terrance, insinuating that he’s a liar with an ‘AGENDA’ (their scare-bolding and capitalization) in an announcement.”

.... Find more information here.

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