Texas Newspaper Removed Same-Sex Couple From Obituary For ‘Religious And Ethical Reasons’

Dallas News

“A same-sex couple in Dallas is accusing a newspaper of discrimination after it removed one of their names from a family member’s obituary.

Barry Giles and John Gambill said the newspaper in Olton cited “religious and ethical” reasons for removing Gambill’s name from Giles’ mother’s obituary last month, according to a report from KDFW-TV (Channel 4).

Brenda Light, who was from Olton, just north of Lubbock, moved to Dallas to be close to Giles and his husband. After she passed away suddenly on Feb. 14, Giles sent her obituary to the Olton Enterprise for it to be published in her hometown.

Brenda Light’s obituary, published in the Olton Enterprise, had no mention of her son’s husband John Gambill

The obituary said, “Those left to cherish her memory include her son, Barry Giles and his husband, John Gambill of Dallas.” But when it was published, any mention of Gambill was gone.

“It wiped John completely off the picture like he didn’t exist,” Giles told the station.

Gambill called the newspaper as soon as he realized what had happened and said the publisher told him he removed his name because he wanted to.

“And that’s all there was to the conversation,” Gambill said. “Of course, I had a few choice words to say to him.”

The paper’s publisher, Phillip Hamilton, who is also a Baptist pastor in Plainview, declined KDFW-TV’s request for an interview, but said in a statement, “It is my religious conviction that a male cannot have a husband. It is also my belief that to publish anything contrary to God’s Word on this issue would be to publish something in the newspaper that is not true.

“The newspaper’s decision to edit the obituary is both ethical and lawful. It would be unethical to publish a news item that is known by the editor to be false. Based on the truth found in the Word of God, I could not in good conscience identify Mr. Gambill as the husband of Mr. Giles.”

Giles said the publisher’s beliefs should have no bearing on the obit.

“We’re human beings like anyone else,” Giles told the station. “We have feelings. We have relationships, whether he agrees with them or not.”

The couple is looking into possible legal action, but appellate attorney Chad Ruback of Dallas told KDFW-TV that the newspaper is protected in this case.

“A newspaper cannot knowingly or recklessly publish false information,” Ruback said to the station. “Other than that, the First Amendment grants the newspaper extremely broad rights in deciding what information to publish and what information not to publish.””

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