Everything’s up to date in Kansas City

It’s easy to take the idea of a newspaper allowing a same-sex couple to take out an advertisement announcing their marriage for granted when you live inside the Northeast Corridor/West Coast bubble. But such a move is still a big deal in many parts of the country, and therefore worth attention.

This weekend, the Kansas City Star ran its first paid advertisement for a Missouri couple–Michael and Charles Hewitt–who got married in neighboring Iowa.  The announcement of the change in policy at the Star came last month and was discussed by the newspaper’s reader’s representative Derek Donovan.

Here’s Donovan on the changes:

The Star’s new policy is one that many other papers around the country adopted long ago, some even before states started recognizing same-sex unions. The decision was made by the paper’s senior management, including publisher Mark Zieman, vice president for advertising Tim Doty, and editor and vice president Mike Fannin.

I wrote about the new policy on my blog at http://adastrum.kansascity.com a few weeks ago, and the feedback I heard from readers there was positive by about three to one.

“Celebrations” notices are paid classified advertising, and I can’t see why The Star shouldn’t accept ads such as this.

The one objection I’ve heard — that Missouri and Kansas don’t recognize the marriages — doesn’t really work for me. After all, the section also runs announcements of engagements, anniversaries, birthdays and other commemorations that aren’t legally sanctioned or binding.

As ever more gay people open up about their lives, everyone begins to recognize those same people among family, friends and neighbors.

Newspapers reflect the world around them, and there’s no reason for them to refuse an ad that simply states an objective fact. My experience tells me most readers agree.

The Star’s decision appears to have not come without controversy. According to the alternative newspaper The Pitch, the Star and the Independence Examiner both initially refused to run the ad, with the Examiner running it and then returning the couples’ money.

Allowing same-sex couples to take out an ad to announce their marriage–or even commitment ceremony–seems to be a “no brainer,” and merely reflects the reality of the community a newspaper serves.  It doesn’t represent an endorsement of a hot political issue anymore than accepting an ad from a steak house represents an endorsement of the non-vegetarian lifestyle.

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