Rochester paper reverses discriminatory policy

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The Rochester Post-Bulletin has reversed a policy that required gay and lesbian couples to purchase an ad to announce a marriage or commitment ceremony — a service offered for free to couples who have the legal option to marry.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin came under fire in 2005 when its publisher, Jon Losness, told Rochester couple Nancy and Barbara Horvath-Zurn that they would have to purchase an ad if they wanted to announce their legal wedding in Canada. Losness said that the paper would deny same-sex announcements as long as same-sex couples had no legal recognition in Minnesota. He also said that the paper had no written rule about the policy — it was solely Losness’ decision.

At the time, Post-Bulletin blogger Jay Furst wrote the paper’s official stance on the issue: “Here’s our rationale: We publish notices for marriages legally recognized in Minnesota. This allows for clarity and consistency in our wedding notices at a time when there’s great disagreement and political controversy over same-sex marriage, and while marriage laws are evolving.”

That disagreement and political controversy appears to have faded three years later as the Post-Bulletin told readers Saturday that same-sex couples will be able to announce their commitment ceremonies in the same manner other couples announce their weddings.

We have a new approach to handling news of public commitment ceremonies by same-sex couples in our area: We’ll publish them.

Readers can’t get enough of engagement, wedding, anniversary, birth and obituary news. That’s bread-and-butter information for newspapers, and we’re always looking for ways to improve and expand what we do with community news of this kind.

We think news of same-sex couples making formal public commitments to each other is of interest to family, friends and the community at large.

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