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February 12, 2010

Cambridge paper refuses couple’s wedding notice

Cambridge, Ohio--A daily newspaper is refusing to publish the marriage announcement of a same-sex couple.

While it is not the first time an Ohio newspaper has refused to honor gay and lesbian couples, this time the pair are legally married.

Bryon Humphrey-Elkins, 36, and Darrell Humphrey-Elkins, 23, were married in Connecticut on December 11. The couple lives in Columbus and wanted to run the announcement in their hometown newspaper in Cambridge, about 60 miles east, where both have family.

Bryon said his sister Tina Elkins called the Cambridge Daily Jeffersonian to place the announcement shortly after their wedding and spoke to the paper’s lifestyle editor, Pam Harmon.

Harmon made arrangements with Elkins and asked for a photograph.

After the information and photograph of the couple was sent, Humphrey-Elkins said Harmon’s attitude changed.

“She became rude,” Humphrey-Elkins said, “and they refused to run the announcement.”

Harmon did not respond to requests for comment. No one at the Daily Jeffersonian would verify aspects of the paper’s policies, but Humphrey-Elkins says they run basic wedding announcements for free, and charge a fee for more elaborate ones. In this case, they refused to run either type.

The Jeffersonian is owned by Dix Communications, a family-owned chain of six daily newspapers, several radio stations and internet service providers, mostly in Ohio.

The family and its company are known for their conservatism and advocacy for Republicans. Dix’s flagship newspaper, the Wooster Daily Record, is chartered as Wooster Republican Printing, LLC.

The newspaper’s publisher, Andrew Dix told the Chronicle, “We have the right to edit and accept material as we see fit.”

Dix said they consider wedding announcements to be “news features,” and “we have different policies for different features.”

“We set our policies as a private company,” Dix added.

Other news reports of the matter speculate that the newspaper was relying on Ohio’s ban on same sex marriages as justification for not running the announcements.

“I’m aware of what Ohio law is,” said Dix. “It has no effect on what we accept.”

Asked if the newspaper publishes wedding announcements from couples married out of state, Dix abruptly ended the conversation, apparently sensing where it was leading.

“I decline to answer any more questions at this time. I have no more comments,” Dix said.

Another Ohio daily paper, the Canton Repository, caused a fracas in 2008 when it refused to publish an engagement announcement for a lesbian couple.

In a letter to their church, Repository editor Jeff Gauger wrote “Given the current state of the law in Ohio, the Repository does not currently intend to publish same-sex engagement and wedding announcements. We also don’t intend to address this topic on our editorial page or in letters to the editor.”

The Daily Jeffersonian did print a letter by Humphrey-Elkins protesting the paper’s decision. The majority of the public comments posted on the paper’s web site side with the couple.

Daily newspapers in most major Ohio cities publish announcements of same-sex couples, as do a growing number in conservative rural areas, including the Lima News.

Ironically, the Alliance Review, also a Dix publication, accepts same-sex engagement announcements.

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This material is copyrighted by the Gay People’s Chronicle. Permission is given to repost no more than the headline, byline, and one or two paragraphs, with the full name of the Gay People’s Chronicle and a link to the full article on our website. Reproduction of the entire article is prohibited without specific written permission.

 


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