The Skype'd wedding of Mark Reed and Dante Walkup -- held at the Dallas W hotel, officiated over Internet teleconferencing software in Washington, D.C. -- went viral a few weeks after the gay couple was legally married in our nation's capital in October. Gay rights activists the world over celebrated the couple's ingenuity in hosting a wedding in their hometown, among friends and family, that still came with a legal officiant and an honest-to-goodness marriage certificate. But what it didn't come with, apparently, is the ability to file a wedding announcement in the local paper.
Despite their viral fame, the Walkups still wanted to run a paid wedding announcement in the The Dallas Morning News. But they were told that same-sex unions had to go under the "commitments" section, not in the "marriage" section, as they wished. They balked. After all, Mark Reed-Walkup told me, "Our marriage is legal in several states and countries." But after a week of "going up the chain," all the way to CEO and publisher Jim Moroney, they were rejected. The couple contacted the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, hoping the organization could help convince The News to "get with the times," but were again refused.
Last Friday, the Walkups filed a formal discrimination complaint with the city against the daily newspaper, as first reported in the Dallas Voice. Their thinking: Paid advertising is a "public accommodation," and they're being denied because of their sexual orientation, a violation of city ordinance. A lightly edited excerpt from their complaint:
"We are a gay couple who are being discriminated based on our sexual orientation. They will only allow us to post in their Commitment category and we did not have a commitment ceremony. We had a legal wedding performed and have a marriage certificate."
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When Unfair Park contacted Jim Moroney yesterday for comment, he e-mailed to say that he hadn't yet seen the complaint and would comment on it once he could get it from City Hall, probably Monday. In the meantime, Moroney writes, "Our policy remains the same: We will publish same sex unions under 'commitments' in the paper."
If Moroney doesn't want to wait until after his Thanksgiving holiday for the city to get around to sending over the filing, here's hoping he's a Friend of Unfair Park, because Mark Reed-Walkup sent us a copy of the full complaint, which follows after the jump.
Reed-Walkup told Unfair Park that he and his husband believe that "separate is never equal, and we refuse to be treated as second-class citizens." He reiterated that theirs was a marriage, not a commitment, ceremony and also expressed frustration that despite the widespread coverage of their Skype ceremony, none of it made the pages of The News.
"There's something there that to me says they just don't want to have gay marriages or gay news published in their paper," he said. "The lack of being just a story in itself, even in the Metro section, speaks volumes."Gay Couple's Complaint Against DMN