Originally published: Sept. 20, 2010, 12:27 p.m.
Updated: Sept. 28, 2010, 7:55 a.m.
GREENSBORO, N.C. — After being criticized for lack of inclusion in its new wedding contest by two local bloggers, the Greensboro News & Record announced Sept. 20 it would open the contest to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.
“I find it somewhat offensive there is an assumption of a bride and groom,” Jones wrote on the News & Record‘s website on Sunday. “Any clarification on whether this opportunity is open to gays and lesbians?”
In reply, News & Record editor John Robinson said, “Sorry, but a N.C. wedding license is required.”
Spaulding also commented on the site: “Was it a conscious editorial decision to restrict it to ‘weddings’ and not open it up to commitment ceremonies, which would allow the contest to be inclusive? Since the services of the person performing the ceremony wasn’t part of the prize, it renders the question of a civil, religious or symbolic ceremony moot.”
On her site, Spaulding recalled a somewhat similar contest held by the Raleigh News & Observer, writing: “We can call attention to it, but the paper does have the legal fig leaf – we cannot marry in NC. They specifically are talking about a wedding. This is in contrast to the “how you met your spouse” contest the N&O had (Kate and I took 2nd place). That paper chose to leave a wide berth for eligibility. The News and Record clearly didn’t want gays and lesbians to participate by eliminating commitment ceremonies and such. That’s the story. The N&R thinks that the law as it stands protects it from criticism.”
On Sept. 20, Robinson announced a change in the contest’s rules: “We and our partners talked about this issue as we were planning the wedding project. We knew it could be contentious. We decided to take a traditional approach to the wedding because we hadn’t done this before and weren’t sure how everything would work. As part of that, we settled on following the state laws as it applies to marriages. But you raise good points. If a same-sex couple wants to have a commitment ceremony, I encourage them to send me an email at the address on this blog’s home page and I’ll make sure that the request will be considered.”
Today, Robinson followed up with a more clear response. In an email to Spaulding, he wrote, “We’ve dropped the rule about the N.C. marriage license from the wedding contest. Thanks for your challenge and feedback about inclusivity. It took a little longer than we would have liked because we needed to discuss it with the other “wedding” partners and then get the lawyer’s OK to change the rules after the contest started. I’m going to update the post as soon as we update the website where the rules are listed.”