Recently, the Jewish Standard, a newspaper of the Bergen County (NJ) Jewish community, printed a wedding announcement for a same-sex couple. There was an outcry by the Orthodox rabbinate, and the paper cowardly relented and announced that it would no longer publish such announcements. This policy was met with a vociferous outcry from the community and comments on the newspaper’s blog were overwhelmingly negative about the restrictive and discriminatory policy. The Standard is now in the process of reconsidering its policy.
Now, the same discrimination has come to a secular newspaper. The Manchester Union Leader has announced that it will not publish wedding announcements for same-sex couples, even though New Hampshire is one of a handful of states with full marriage equality. The rationale is that the paper is against New Hampshire’s marriage law, and to publish such wedding announcements would be against editorial policy.
The Union Leader has served the citizens of New Hampshire for almost 150 years, but this policy is a blunder. For a newspaper to be credible, it must separate its editorial policy from its responsibilities as a news organization. The newspaper has historically been one of the leading voices of conservative journalism, but this policy of blatant discrimination is a black mark on whatever journalistic integrity it had. Any newspaper has the right to print or not print whatever its publisher desires. But legitimate newspapers, especially ones that dominate a state’s circulation, have a moral responsibility to print the news without discrimination. Today, the citizens of New Hampshire are ill-served by their state’s largest newspaper.