Arkansas | Couples | Discrimination | Gay Marriage | News

Gay Couple Denied Commitment Announcement in Arkansas Paper

Cody Renegar and his fiance Thomas Staed plan to hold a commitment ceremony at their Elkins, Arkansas home this summer and hoped to publish an announcement in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

RenegarBut the paper won't let them, KNWA reports:

The paper's publisher says it is their policy to only print announcements for marriages legally recognized by the state, and Arkansas does not acknowledge same-sex marriages.

"It's not a law for it not to be put in the paper, it's a choice of theirs, it felt to me like they were making a stance.  Whether they were or not I don't know," Renegar says.

He says the paper's position is a big letdown. "You want to be recognized as a taxpayer, as a human being, as a person in's not that complicated for them to print a picture of people in love."

We did ask the paper's publisher for an on-camera interview, but he declined our offer.

Watch a video interview with Renegar at KNWA.

Yahoo! News adds:

Gazette publisher Rusty Turner told Yahoo! News on Monday that he was not familiar with Renegar's request, but said it would not be published because of long-standing editorial policies. "We run announcements for marriages that are legally recognized in Arkansas," Turner said."It is a long-established policy of the newspaper."

Turner said he was personally unaware of any similar requests from same-sex couples.

A petition to the paper has been launched at

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  1. Pressure needs to be put on the newspapers advertisers to withdraw their ads- hit 'em where it hurts.

    Posted by: Joey Boots | Jan 24, 2012 9:42:08 AM

  2. Lovely looking couple. People should boycott this paper.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Jan 24, 2012 9:56:44 AM

  3. They are a lovely couple and I wish them all the best... but... and I'm going to get a lot of flak for this... I'm not sure I understand why this is as big of a problem as it is made out to be. It doesn't sound, from the facts above, that there is a formal domestic partnership registry here but just them announcing their loving commitment to each other.

    If the paper has a policy of only announcing state recognized relationships and is applying the policy evenly then it is their right to do so as a private business. Do I think its the right policy? No. But it does seem that this is one of those "where do you draw the line" circumstances.

    Shouldn't the real pressure be on the state (or city even) to recognize some form of same-sex relationship? Then if the paper refused, I could understand how it is an unfair position.

    Posted by: hightemp | Jan 24, 2012 10:04:57 AM

  4. Boycott the paper.

    Posted by: Francis | Jan 24, 2012 10:15:35 AM

  5. Being someone who works in publishing, I kinda agree with Hightemp (above).

    It's not the paper's fault, per se, but the state's. Boycott it (and maybe stop buying the paper).

    Posted by: S. | Jan 24, 2012 10:19:58 AM

  6. OMG...

    Posted by: | Jan 24, 2012 10:20:58 AM

  7. Awww, but they're so cute! :)

    Posted by: Dback | Jan 24, 2012 10:21:45 AM

  8. hightemp is spot on. The culprit here isn't the paper but the political system.

    Posted by: Frank | Jan 24, 2012 10:24:55 AM

  9. Hightemp is correct. The paper really did nothing wrong here. There is no legally recognized way in their state to enter a marriage or civil union.

    Imagine the reverse..What if a straight couple wanted an announcement that they had moved in together and were committed to each other. Would there be a petition?

    Posted by: Chris | Jan 24, 2012 10:41:57 AM

  10. Disagree with Hightemp in that the paper itself chooses to enforce this policy.

    It's not illegal to publish a committment notice.

    In Arkansas, that's all they have.

    I do agree that pressure should be put on legislators to change the law to recognize gay marriage.

    Posted by: Continuum | Jan 24, 2012 10:51:33 AM

  11. It's Arkansas. Surprised? Anyone?

    Posted by: DuPree | Jan 24, 2012 10:54:39 AM

  12. There is actually one place that does domestic partnerships in Arkansas. It's called Eureka Springs, and it's about an hour away from where this couple lives. Whether they choose to pursue that option, I do not know.

    But yes, Dupree, I am surprised that the state I live in would openly block anyone from dignity. We don't "ask for it" living in the South. It's OUR home too.

    Posted by: Mike | Jan 24, 2012 11:25:39 AM

  13. And there is a fact wrong in this article. The newspaper they submitted to was the Northwest Arkansas Times based out of Fayetteville. Its parent newspaper is the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette based out of Little Rock. Both newspapers have the same policy.

    Posted by: Mike | Jan 24, 2012 11:31:41 AM

  14. The Dem-Gazette publishes engagement announcements and THEY are not legally recognized. This is a simple matter of the paper developing a policy that announces to locals that these two guys have formally (if not legally according to the constitution) joined their lives together. It's important, and I hope they raise a big stink. My folks (who still live in AR) love commitment and they will feel badly for this couple. It's just a step in the right direction to raise awareness.

    Posted by: Troy | Jan 24, 2012 11:42:47 AM

  15. This was the policy of the New York Times until Sept. 2002. The first couple printed there was a CU from Vermont, Daniel Gross and Steven Goldstein.

    Glad to see that 10 years after, the rest of the country is also being pressed to mention that we exist.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Jan 24, 2012 12:08:53 PM

  16. Is an engagement a "legally recognized relationship"? I don't think so. It is merely an informal arrangement between two people who intend to marry. It is not recognized by the state, nor does it have any legal weight, but such announcements are made in newspapers everyday. What this couple is asking for is no different than an engagement announcement, which the paper does accept, I am sure. So, from that perspective, the paper is discriminating against the gay couple. They should be boycotted, along with their advertisers.

    Posted by: RWG | Jan 24, 2012 12:36:28 PM

  17. Just to statement earlier was based on what is presented here...that the paper published "marriage announcements." If it is engagement announcement then my argument above wouldn't really apply.

    Again... best of luck to the happy couple.

    Posted by: hightemp | Jan 24, 2012 1:17:42 PM

  18. These two cute guys should have their engagement announcement published.

    Posted by: jaragon | Jan 24, 2012 6:04:06 PM

  19. I'm from Arkansas, very near Elkins as a matter of fact. This comes as no surprise to me at all. While in college, I was dating a guy, and we wanted to move in together. While looking at apartments, we quickly found out how difficult being gay in Arkansas could be. We were turned down for 1 bedroom apartments at several places, on the basis they didn't allow two people of the same sex to rent 1 bedroom apartments. I really liked Arkansas, but I couldn't deal with the backwoods type of conservatism that exists there. It's not a state that will change anytime soon. I thinks the paper's policy is bogus. They weren't asked to print a marriage announcement, they were asked to print a commitment ceremony which is a completely different thing. They just don't want all the hate mail they would get for publishing it.

    Posted by: Ron | Jan 31, 2012 4:45:04 PM

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