Thursday's news that the Oregon's Eugene Register-Guard will now publish birth announcements for same-sex couples was met with celebration by folks not only in Eugene, but at also at GLAAD. For the past six years we have been studying the announcement policies of newspapers across the country, lobbying for more LGBT-inclusive policies.
We launched our Announcing Equality campaign in 2002 after working with the New York Times to open its weddings and celebrations pages to same-sex couples. Seeing gay and lesbian couples' wedding and other commitment ceremony announcements in the New York Times was great. But what about the rest of the country?
Back in '02, there were 70 daily newspapers in the U.S. willing to print a wedding/commitment ceremony announcement from a same-sex couple. By the time we surveyed every daily U.S. newspaper in 2008, that number jumped to 1,050!
Over 1,050 Strong!
Make that 1,051 exactly, with our newest addition! This fall, Dennis Vaughn and Mark Neal called GLAAD letting us know they were having trouble placing their wedding announcement in Dennis' hometown newspaper, the Pantagraph, out of Bloomington, Illinois. After conversations with key editors at the paper, the Pantagraph made the choice to print their very first wedding announcement for a gay couple, for Dennis and Mark on October 5, 2008.
GLAAD has worked with couples across the country to help them make headway at their local newspapers, but not every newspaper is as open to fair-minded discussion as the folks at the Pantagraph are. For example, let's take the case of Ronda Moorhead and Kelli Shaw in Canton, Ohio. Ronda and Kelli have made their home in Canton, and this spring they had hoped to place their engagement announcement in their hometown paper, the Repository.
Though the Repository's editor Jeff Gauger still refused to place the couples' announcement after conversations with both the couple and with GLAAD, we were able to draw attention to the issue and spark conversations in their hometown and beyond.
With GLAAD's help, the paper's discriminatory policy has been discussed in the Gay People's Chronicle, alternative weekly Cleveland Free Times, and the local Cleveland Fox and CBS TV affiliates. The local CBS affiliate held a live blog forum on its website, during which many community members voiced support for their neighbors Ronda and Kelli. One wrote: "I think it's wrong to deny them the announcement, because they are just like everyone else. They are just another couple who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together."
Announce YOUR Equality!
Sure, more than 1,000 papers will include gay and lesbian couples' announcements. However, only 340 of these papers have actually received an announcement from a same-sex couple to print. Be the first same-sex couple to submit your announcement! Check out GLAAD's new online resource for a list of inclusive papers, and let us know how it goes! Email us your stories at: firstname.lastname@example.org