In January 2011, Change.org first brought you the story of Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup, a Dallas couple who was legally married in Washington, D.C., yet couldn’t get their marriage announcement printed in the Dallas Morning News’ “Weddings” section. The Dallas Morning News told Mark and Dante that same-sex couples weren’t welcome in the “Weddings” section, and that because Texas state law banned same-sex marriage, the paper was justified in omitting same-sex couples from its pages.
Mark and Dante wouldn’t take no for an answer. In sharing their story with Change.org, Mark and Dante urged Change.org members to put pressure on the Dallas Morning News, and demand the paper get rid of this discriminatory and anti-equality policy.
After months of pressure from nearly 15,000 Change.org members, as well as the persistent work of Mark and Dante – who even filed an anti-discrimination complaint against the Dallas Morning News – the paper has announced that they are changing their policy and will print same-sex wedding announcements in their “Weddings” section. Publisher James Moroney said that “it’s the right thing to do,” and that the decision will be effective July 10, 2011.
Mark told Change.org that this victory spotlights how even in the reddest of states, battles for equality can be fought and won.
Remember a few months ago when Dallas couple Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup got married over the Internet, in what many consider the first same-sex wedding over Skype? It was a beautiful new media moment, as the couple exchanged vows in front of family and friends in Dallas, with the help of an officiant in Washington, D.C. (where same-sex marriage is legal).
Mark and Dante traveled to D.C. again in December 2010 to tie the knot (a court ruled that their Skype marriage, while good for technology, had very little legal standing). They got officially married at the Jefferson Memorial, and now have a license letting them know that their marriage is legal and legit.
Mark and Dante want to have their same-sex wedding announced in the Dallas Morning News, their home city's daily newspaper. But while the Dallas Morning News says they'll run an announcement in their "Commitments" section, they're unwilling to run the announcement in the "Weddings" section. For the Dallas Morning News, the "Weddings" section is off limits for same-sex couples, even though five states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage.
The decision by the Dallas Morning News has prompted Mark and Dante to file a complaint with the city, suggesting that the paper is discriminating against gay couples. According to the Dallas Voice, the couple is using a city ordinance barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to make their case. Since wedding announcements are essentially paid advertisements, at least according to the couple, they ought to constitute a public accommodation and as such, the Dallas Morning News shouldn't segregate same-sex wedding announcements to a different section of the paper.
Send the Dallas Morning News a message that same-sex wedding announcements belong in the "Weddings" section. This could be a real teachable moment for the newspaper to follow in the footsteps of other papers that publish same-sex marriage announcements in the "Weddings" section.