David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

OPINION: New Hampshire Newspaper Refuses to Print Legal Gay Wedding Announcement

By:  David Shepherd – October 25, 2010

This is one of the rare times I will ever express my personal views on this blog.  I’m not writing this story as a gay man.  I’m writing this story as a journalist; a journalist that understands the real responsibility of the news media.

A New Hampshire newspaper is in hot water for not printing a wedding announcement for a gay couple who plan to legally wed this weekend.

CNN reports Greg Gould and Aurelio Tine asked the New Hampshire Union Leader to print their wedding announcement in their publication.  The paper refused.

In a written statement, the paper said, “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.”

Gay marriage is legal in New Hampshire.

Gould told WMUR-TV, “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.”

Democratic Senate candidate Paul Hodes attacked the paper for its view.

“Mr. Gould and Mr. Tine will become legally married this weekend and they should have the same opportunities as everyone in New Hampshire to have their marriage publicized and recognized. The Union Leader’s disgraceful policy of exclusion harkens to a different time in this country when people were denied opportunity because of their race, religion and ethnic origin,” said Hodes in a written statement. 

On CNN’s comment page, many posted that the paper has the legal right to print whatever it wants.

Here’s the problem.  Yes, the paper has the freedom to print what it wants.  But the news media is supposed to be impartial.  In states where gay marriage is not legal, it’s understandable that media outlets wouldn’t print a gay marriage announcement.

However, in a state (like New Hampshire) where gay marriage is legal, the paper does not have the right to discriminate against citizens taking part in a legal process.  If they want to claim to be a newspaper that brings readers the unbiased news, then they do not have the right to say what should be legal and what shouldn’t be legal.  It’s the responsibility of the news media to report the truth and the facts.  The truth and the fact, in New Hampshire, is that gay marriage is legal; period.

It’s this journalist’s opinion that the newspaper is deciding for themselves what is ethical and what is not.  When journalists start making themselves out to be judge and jury, we have a real problem.

This isn’t an issue of whether gay marriage should be legal or not.  It’s an issue of a newspaper deciding for themselves what the law of the state should be. 

Yes, the newspaper has the legal right to print, or not print, whatever they want.  However, if the newspaper decides not to print the announcement of a gay marriage (which is legal in that state) they no longer have the right to call themselves impartial.  They are no longer a member of the media.  They become part of a group that prints what they think is morally correct.  In this journalist’s mind, that is a dangerous precedent.  The media should report the truth; the facts.  It is not the job of the media to report that THEY think is right.

October 25, 2010 - Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. “It is not the job of the media to report that THEY think is right.”
    …which is exactly what you’re doing in this article. I’m an ally through and through, but I also cannot tolerate conservatives being attacked for their viewpoints.

    Comment by C | October 27, 2010 | Reply

  2. i think that gay marriage should be allowed in certain states but not in other states **:

    Comment by Interactive Whiteboards | December 1, 2010 | Reply

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