More great news from America’s Heartland!
Yesterday the Kansas City Star – one of the Missouri’s largest newspapers – announced its decision to adopt a new inclusive wedding announcement policy, printing the announcements of Kansas’ same-sex couples for the first time in the “Celebrations” section of the paper. This news was met with excitement by folks around the region – but no one was happier than newlyweds Mike and Chuck Hewitt, who submitted the announcement that led to the official change in policy at the Star.
Following the news that Iowa had extended marriage to same-sex couples in April, Mike and Chuck Hewitt of Independence, Missouri, decided to travel to Iowa in order to finally have the chance to exchange wedding vows after 10 years together.
“Even though we had a commitment ceremony, when we had the legal ceremony it was like a little switch was flipped and it just felt complete,” said Chuck Hewitt to KMBC.
However, when the couple returned to their home state and began the process of submitting a wedding announcement with their local paper, the Independence Enquirer, they discovered that their announcement was not welcome. Disheartened but still excited to share their joy at their recent wedding with friends and neighbors, they called on the Kansas City Star next. According to Mike Hewitt, “All they had to do was look at the picture – ‘Two guys? No.”
News of their rejection reached local media outlets, and was picked up across Missouri and as far away as Quad Cities, Illinois. Both papers were approached for comment and told KMBC that they were following the state law of Missouri, which does not recognize marriage for same-sex couples. Following the media attention, however, and thanks to earlier conversations with GLAAD that helped to lay the groundwork for the change in policy, the Kansas City Star responded to the outpouring of reader comments about the news reports of non-inclusive wedding announcement policy.
According to Derek Donovan, reader representative at the Kansas City Star,
“At the time the couple contacted the Classified division last week, it was the first time I'm aware of that the question had been raised in a long time. The policy was put in place three publishers ago, before states began legalizing marriage and other unions between gay couples.
The Star's senior management met last Thursday morning to review the old policy, and decided to change it. I replied to the TV reporter's request for comment last week immediately after that policy meeting, but did not receive a response. The new 'Celebrations' will debut in the near future.”
Not only will the Hewitt family be able to share their good news with their local community, but the Kansas City Star’s change of heart makes the total of U.S. daily newspapers with inclusive policies reach 1,052 strong! How do we know? GLAAD has been studying the announcement policies of newspapers across the country, working for more LGBT-inclusive policies for more than six years now.
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 – and then expanded the campaign nationwide, working with more papers to open their pages to same-sex couples. Back in 2002, there were only 70 daily papers in the U.S. willing to print a wedding/commitment ceremony announcement for a same-sex couple. With the Kansas City Star joining the list of LGBT-inclusive papers along with the Illinois Pantagraph late last year, this number jumps to 1,052.
You can see the happy couple’s reaction in their interview with KCTV5 here.
And for those curious about the feedback that the Kansas City Star has received about its new policy? Donovan says that the feed back has been almost “100% positive.”