Of course, the way the paper did it—acting at first as if nothing was different, and then, under probing, finally admitting this is a change dictated by upper management—leaves something to be desired.
Nor is this a first for Richmond newspapers, because more than a year ago Style Weekly announced a policy change—accepting same-gender commitment announcements on the same basis as the other ones. Style made a big announcement at the time.
But wait, there’s a more. The Times-Dispatch policy deals only with weddings that are legal in the jurisdiction in which they are performed. That’s why the lesbian couple could be shown in the November 21 paper—they are being married in Washington, D.C.
Not so, with Style. They’ll print notices for LGBT commitment ceremonies, even if they are not legally sanctioned.
Of course, both newspapers charge for the service—long gone are the days when newspapers printed announcements for free!
As a pastor, I am glad for these changes. All couples deserve recognition in the community. BRAVA! to Jess and Katie, and their parents, for being pioneers.
However, as a marriage equality advocate, I am distressed by the Times-Dispatch–not only because of their limited policy, but also because they do not have courage enough to announce even this small change.
In truth, it is not much of a change anyway. They would be under a serious journalistic ethical cloud if they failed to treat marriages performed in other states differently from those performed here. Other newspapers in Virginia including Roanoke, Staunton, Hopewell, and Falls Church already do this.
On the other hand, I admit to a certain satisfaction seeing two women embracing, obviously in love, in the Richmond Times-Dispatch! I just hope Victoria Cobb, for whom I pray every day, saw it. She and her allies at the Family Foundation need to know that Virginia is not a fortress. No matter how hard they try to keep their fingers in the dike of justice (did I say that?), change is coming.
Indeed, the drip, drip, drip of change is building into a tidal wave, sweeping all the encrusted prejudice before it. Thanks to Jess and Katie, it’s building a little faster.
Rev. Dr. Robin H. Gorsline is President of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, an interfaith organization of gay and straight clergy and lay people working for equality for LGBT Virginians. Read more of his thoughts on faith and spirituality on his personal blog.