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'Union Leader' challenged over gay union ban

Last modified: 10/24/2010 12:00:00 AM
New Hampshire's largest newspaper is defending its decision to refuse to publish marriage notices for gay couples after one couple getting married yesterday tried to include their announcement.

The New Hampshire Union Leader of Manchester says it has a constitutional right to choose what to print.

Publisher Joe McQuaid said the paper isn't 'anti-gay,' but believes that marriage is between a man and a woman. He said the paper is opposed to a recent state law legalizing gay marriage.

'While the law sanctions gay marriage, it neither demands that churches perform them or that our First Amendment right to choose what we print be suspended,' McQuaid said. 'In accordance with that right, we continue our longstanding policy of printing letters to the editor from New Hampshire citizens, whether or not they agree with us.'

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Paul Hodes denounced the paper's decision and said it should respect the law.

'Legitimate minds can disagree over policy but once the law is settled, the paper should put aside differences and allow all couples to have equal access to their publication,' Hodes said.

Hodes challenged Republican opponent Kelly Ayotte, the state's former attorney general, to denounce the paper, too. Campaign spokesman Jeff Grappone said government officials have no business telling a free press what it should or should not do.

New Hampshire is one of five states that legalized gay marriages - and that's one reason it was important to Greg Gould, an independent investor from New York, to return to his home state to get married. When he submitted the marriage notice, Gould was told it couldn't be published, and he ended up speaking to McQuaid.

Gould was disappointed. 'If you look at the way the state has progressed in a lot of ways, it seems they're out of touch,' said Gould, 42, who is marrying Aurelio Tine, 33, a home renovations contractor. The two, who met nearly a year ago, were getting married in Portsmouth with about 50 guests.

'We're just super-excited to be in a state that recognizes the right that everybody has and we hope that over time we can change the federal laws, but also the viewpoint of others, like the Union Leader,' Gould said. 'When you publish a wedding announcement, it's not as if the newspaper sanctions it - it's just news. If they didn't want to report on all the things they didn't like, then they wouldn't report on murder, and war and government.'

In August, the Omaha World-Herald eased its ban on publishing gay marriage announcements after being criticized for its refusal to print a lesbian couple's commitment notice.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said as of 2008, about 72 percent of daily newspapers in the United States accept wedding and/or commitment ceremony announcements for same-sex couples. The Concord Monitor publishes announcements of civil unions and same-sex marriages.


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