Editor recalls gay marriage brouhaha of 1993

Salt Lake Tribune editorial writer George Pyle recalls when two men walked into his editor’s office at the Salina Journal in 1993, and asked that their engagement and wedding announcement run in the paper. They were surprised when he said yes.

If the guys had come in and said they wanted to place a “civil union” announcement or a “domestic partnership” notice, I might have turned them down. We didn’t have a standing headline for those things. And I’m way too busy to create a whole new category of anything just for you guys.

Pyle says the men’s wedding got special treatment: “We did a big story about the guys. A lot of readers were royally ticked off. A few canceled their subscriptions and one launched a campaign to get the state’s major grocery chain to cancel its advertising.” (Media Q reports 117 readers canceled subscriptions over the story.)

Editor & Publisher wrote about controversy, and quoted Pyle saying the paper didn’t have any other choice than to run the engagement/wedding announcements because “our editorial policy has always been in favor of equal rights.”

There are currently 280 comments attached to Pyle’s weekend column on the Salt Lake Tribune website. I’ve asked him if reaction to the issue has changed since the 1993 Salina Journal controversy. I’ll post his response when/if it comes in.

UPDATE: Pyle sends this report —

I don’t get much in the way of phone calls or email any more. Two emails today, one happy, one ticked off because The Tribune doesn’t run Prince Valiant anymore. One phone message from – judging by the voice – a very old man who said I should interview God and write about this again. On and on about how he’s tired of all those “special rights” for those gays and lesbians.

The online comments, on the other hand, 256 at last count. (There were only 21 late last night. Most people apparently don’t read it, or aren’t sitting at a computer, until Monday. When they can write to me on their employer’s time.) That’s a lot for me and for any editorial page offering. Of course, at lot of it is back and forth among commenters who are commenting on the comments, not on what I wrote.

I take it as evidence that a great many people think this is not really that big an issue any more. Or that the Trib and I are just on our commie liberal warpath again, so who cares.

* Gay or straight, the name remains the same