Tell Arkansas Paper to Apologize

Tell Arkansas Paper to Apologize

You know, newspapers and other printed media are already on the decline; perhaps papers should think twice before alienating the few readers they have left.

An editor from The Batesville Daily Guard of Arkansas should think about this in particular. When John Christopher Millican recently passed away, his obituary was sent in to be listed among the other peoples’ death announcements in the area. Mr. Millican’s life partner, Terrance James, was to be listed in his obituary—but he was edited out of the listing, out of his partner’s very life, by the newspaper staff.

It’s never joyful to see our losses in print, but it at least provides the deceased with a way to be remembered by those who might have known him, as well as his family with another small step to closure. When you list an obituary, it is common to list surviving family members, such as parents, spouses, children, and other loved ones.

In most states, gay and lesbian couples cannot get married, and therefore cannot be listed as spouses. However, there are no laws barring them from being listed as partners, and should be granted the same respect and dignity with this term—which is by no means equal to that of spouse, by the way; both terms should be available to all people legally—when their partners pass away.

Batesville Daily Guard, how dare you. There is no excuse for this outrageous behavior. How would you feel if, after the death of your spouse, you were not listed in his or her obituary?

I would love to hear what your reasoning was for this move. I would love for you to publically announce your bigotry and for you to own your malice for what it is. Was this a single instance of prejudice, or do you routinely snub your gay and lesbian readers? Are you known as the homophobic gazette of the Midwest? Some honest answers would be great.

But you know what else would be great, and decent, and definitely is called for? An apology. And a reprint of Mr. Millican’s obituary in its original form, complete with Mr. James’s name in it. That’s the least you can do to make up for this obnoxious act.

As others have pointed out, not only is this blatant form of bigotry contemptuous due to the fact that it is a blatant form of bigotry, it’s also offensive to journalists everywhere. Local journalists are already covering mostly fluffy, insignificant stories; what better way to threaten the integrity they possess than to omit such a vital piece of information from something as basic and straightforward as an obituary? I don’t mean to mock people’s deaths, only the fact that if you screw up an obituary—on purpose or not—what can you really be accountable for in the end, anyway?

Please click here and sign the petition if you agree that the paper should be held accountable for these actions and that they should both A. issue an apology and B. reprint the obituary.