Sometimes challenging convention in support of equality does pay off. The Greensboro News & Record, is now going to allow same-sex couples to fully participate in its wedding contest, dropping its requirement for a NC marriage license. John Robinson, the editor of the paper, contacted me just a few moments ago with the news.
From: John Robinson
Date: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 3:15 PM
To: tips @ phblend.net
We’ve dropped the rule about the N.C. marriage license from the wedding contest.
Thanks for your challenge and feedback about inclusivity. It took a little longer than we would have liked because we needed to discuss it with the other “wedding” partners and then get the lawyer’s OK to change the rules after the contest started.
I’m going to update the post as soon as we update the website where the rules are listed.
News & Record
The N&R contact page for Robinson if you would like to thank him for (belatedly) doing the right thing:
Regular readers may recall my post from a few days ago about the Greensboro N&R holding a wedding contest with all the frills to be provided to one lucky couple for a ceremony. When a reader, Liz at Greensboring, asked whether same-sex couples could reply, editor John Robinson said:
John Robinson September 19, 2010 – 2:57 pm EDT
Sorry, but a N.C. wedding license is required.
There was nothing to prohibit the N&R from opening up its contest to same-sex couples, after all, there are weddings and commitment ceremonies held in NC all the time. The marriage license is not the purview of the N&R, but of the state. There is no minister or justice of the peace provided; that’s the couple’s choice. All we’re talking about is the hotel and vendors providing these services.
* Schiffman’s Jewelry for the ring;
* Extra Ingredient for the wedding registry and china;
* Ashleigh’s Fine Paper for the wedding planning and invitations;
* Ollie’s Bakery for the cake;
* Dr. Mark Hyman for teeth whitening;
* Merle Norman for make-up;
* Dawn’s Bridal for the gown;
* Letia’s Bridal for the tuxedo;
* Plants and Answers for the flowers;
* AAA Travel for the honeymoon.
* The Proximity Hotel will host and provide the rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony and reception.
So after I Tweeted and Facebooked about this hot mess, a couple of hours later Robinson responded with a “compromise”. See that fail below the fold, plus a reader writes the vendors.
John Robinson September 20, 2010 – 10:47 am EDT
I hear you, Pam and ascensions. We and our partners talked about this issue as we were planning the wedding project. We knew it could be contentious. We decided to take a traditional approach to the wedding because we hadn’t done this before and weren’t sure how everything would work. As part of that, we settled on following the state laws as it applies to marriages.
But you raise good points. If a same-sex couple wants to have a commitment ceremony, I encourage them to send me an email at the address on this blog’s home page and I’ll make sure that the request will be considered.
So I posted an update. However, it was later clarified that the rules of eligibility had not changed.
John Robinson September 20, 2010 – 6:52 pm EDT
Sorry to be so confusing. If a gay couple is interested in applying for the marriage, email me and we will talk. Right now, though, we’re committed to throwing a wedding, following North Carolina law.
Pam_Spaulding September 21, 2010 – 1:34 pm EDT
OK, so now you’re saying that a same-sex couple that enters, will be “considered”, but has zero chance of winning the contest because they cannot receive a NC marriage license? Come on, John, you cannot have it both ways. Please clarify.
John Robinson September 21, 2010 – 1:43 pm EDT
We haven’t changed the rules. We are open to hearing from and talking to people who feel they qualify under the rules except for the requirement about the valid N.C. marriage license. I can’t say whether that will cause a change in the rules or not.
So gay and lesbian couple would be “considered,” with their application tossed in the virtual ash can because they cannot obtain a marriage license in the state of NC.
Another reader, Brian O., was so incensed that he wrote every vendor on that contest list to ask if they knew this was a discriminatory contest.
This letter is to the dentist providing the teeth whitening service. Brian’s letters to the others were similar.
Dear Dr. Hyman,
Thank you for your support and dedication to the Greensboro community. I write today to bring your attention to a serious issue regarding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population in our community.
Many sponsors of the Triad Dream Wedding, sponsored in part by your business are avid supporters of LGBT causes in this community. This is why when I saw the advertisement on the Greensboro News & Record website for the Triad Dream Wedding you are co-sponsoring I assumed it would be open to all couples. But, living in the world we live in, I knew to investigate further. And, to my surprise, I found the following line within the legal jargon, “…who are 21 years of age or older and are able to obtain a valid North Carolina marriage license.”
The above contest rule effectively bars same-sex couples from participating in the contest. Through this contest, you had the opportunity to make a statement about your businesses belief in the value of everyone in our community. You lost this incredible opportunity.
On a practical note, the contest is sponsoring a ceremony and reception. These events are separate from the legal binding nature of a marriage license. In fact, heterosexual couples could take advantage of the ceremony and reception and still not even proceed to file for a marriage license. Ceremonies and receptions are celebrations of two people’s lifelong commitment to one another. Why are you choosing to only celebrate the commitment made by heterosexual couples? By participating and sponsoring this contest, your business is validating the belief that only heterosexual marriages have value in our society.
I challenge you to take a stand and urge organizers to open this contest to all couples regardless of their ability to attain a state marriage license.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding this very important issue.
Each of the following sponsors responded to Brian and said they would be following up with the N & R:
The Main Ingredient
Mark Hyman, DDS
Ashleigh’s Fine Paper
Plants and Answers
Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels (Proximity Hotel and Print Works Bistro)
With the ball back in John Robinson’s court (and probably vendor emails in his inbox), he later consulted his attorneys and got back to me today.
The whole dust up just shows that there is more fear than is necessary in these instances. It’s just a matter of communicating with the concerned parties to see where they stand. Obviously the N&R was more concerned about its partners on this contest than it needed to be.
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