Omaha newspaper to include wedding announcements of same-sex couples

Posted by Terry Kroeger on

"There has been quite a lot written online recently about a practice of this news organization to not accept marriage announcements of same-sex couples.

"Today we are changing that practice and setting the record straight on our approach generally toward gay and lesbian issues.

"The 'Celebrations' page of the Omaha World-Herald has provided a place to buy space to celebrate weddings, engagements, anniversaries and birthdays. It will continue to be just that. Celebrations announcements regarding legal weddings, engagements for legal weddings or anniversaries of a legal marriage will be welcomed, regardless of the genders of the couple. We will not run announcements regarding commitment ceremonies, partnerships and other non-marriage unions, again regardless of gender.

"Some will criticize this action because they would prefer that announcements for same-sex couples not appear in their newspaper. Others will say it doesn't go far enough. Our sense is that this change will provide for a public 'celebration' of important milestones in the lives of people who take the significant steps toward legally sanctioned marriage. Iowa and four other states as well as the District of Columbia have legalized the freedom to marry. We will publish Celebrations announcements of marriages from those jurisdictions.

"We understand that commitment ceremonies and similar events are indeed important for many people. We are choosing to recognize licensed marriages approved by states. That is in line with the historical standard set by society in this country. If the citizens of more states approve marriage equality, our practice will adjust along with those changes.

"This matter has come up before. We regularly examine our practices and policies to determine if and when we should change them. That is what we are doing now, following the latest disagreement concerning how we handle our Celebrations announcements.

"Last week, Omaha businessman Jeff Wilke called me about placing an announcement for the planned union of his daughter, Kristy, and Jessica Kitzman. Unfortunately, the conversation ended before we had a chance to fully discuss the matter. Instead, the matter went public on Facebook and generated a firestorm among folks who care passionately about the issue.

"So, given that Kristy and Jessica's plans were the genesis of this controversy, let me pause here to congratulate them on their plans. Kristy, Jessica: I wish you a long and happy life together, and congratulate you and your families."

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