Mark Reed Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup

Dallas Morning News Publisher James M. Moroney III confirmed today that the newspaper will begin publishing same-sex marriage announcements under Weddings. The DMN has published same-sex marriage announcements for several years, under a separate header that’s currently called Commitments. But until now the newspaper has refused to publish the announcements, which are paid advertisements, under Weddings.

Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup of Irving, who were legally married in Washington, D.C., last year, filed a discrimination complaint against The DMN in December, alleging that the policy violates a Dallas city ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations. The DMN initially indicated through its attorneys that it planned to defend the policy, based partly on Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage. But in a meeting with the couple on Thursday, Moroney and DMN Editor Bob Mong informed them of the policy change.

Moroney told Instant Tea today that the newspaper made the change, which takes effect immediately, because it was “the right thing to do,” adding that he isn’t worried about backlash from conservative readers.

“When you do the right thing, you just do the right thing,” Moroney said. “I believe that publishing same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legally allowed, that publishing those under the Weddings heading in our newspaper, is the right thing to do.”

The Walkups said their marriage announcement will appear in the DMN on Sunday, July 10.

“It was a tremendous relief,” Reed-Walkup said of Thursday’s news. “It’s been a very long, stressful process.”

The couple said they felt the issue was important because the announcements will allow young people to see that same-sex marriage is possible.

“We are legally married and we have the right to let everybody know about it, just like everybody else,” Dante Walkup said.

Although the couple prevailed, Reed-Walkup criticized the city of Dallas for its handling of the discrimination complaint. He said an investigator wasn’t assigned to the case until April, and city officials failed to communicate with the couple about the status of the complaint.

Reed-Walkup eventually set up meetings with Moroney and Mong on his own.

“Now I understand why 53 complaints have been filed and not a single one of them has ever been prosecuted,” Reed-Walkup said. “It’s broken and it needs fixed.”

Read a statement from the couple below.

July 1, 2011

We filed our anti-gay discrimination complaint with the city of Dallas in late December, 2010. After several months of waiting on the city to resolve this issue, we reached out to the Dallas Morning News to attempt to settle the case ourselves.

Jim Maroney (CEO) and Bob Mong (Editor) accepted our request and gave us an opportunity to present our case to them.  On June 7, we met with them and they were very gracious and committed to us that they would revisit their policy.

Yesterday afternoon, June 30, we along with CeCe Cox (Resource Center Executive Director) met with Jim and Bob and they agreed to change their policy and allow same-gender wedding announcements to be placed in the marriage section of both their newspaper and on-line celebration section. Jim’s reasoning for the change was “because it was the right thing to do.”

Their on-line website will be gender-neutral to clearly indicate same-gender announcements are welcomed and accepted in their celebration categories of Engagement, Wedding and Anniversary.

We are thrilled with this decision and thank the Dallas Morning News for making this historic change.  The new policy shows respect for our marriage and future couples who place a wedding ad with the Dallas Morning News.

We thank everyone who has offered tremendous support and encouragement since we filed the complaint last December.

In particular, we thank Shellie Crandall & Pam Buchmeyer who assisted us with a revised complaint prior to meeting with our investigator.  They have been strong cheerleaders all the way and we appreciate them very much for their support and friendship.

We thank CeCe Cox who attended the meeting as a friend to witness this amazing moment.

We thank for creating the on-line petition that generated close to 15,000 signatures.

And we thank GetEQUAL who also assisted us with creating pressure to help make this change.

We plan to run our wedding ad next Sunday, July 10.

“Your belief determines your action and your action determines your results, but first you have to believe.”  Mark Victor Hansen

Believe in yourself!

Mark & Dante Walkup