Sunday, March 18, 2018

Baptist newspaper editor removes reference to man's husband in obituary...

Today's topic comes to you courtesy of Recovery from Mormonism.  An eagle eyed poster noticed an article about a Baptist newspaper editor at the Olton Enterprise who took it upon himself to edit an obituary for Brenda Light, who died suddenly on February 14th.

Brenda Light had a son, Barry Giles, who lives in Dallas and is married to John Gambill.  Gambill, who has been with Giles for 31 years, thought of his husband's mother as a "second mom".  Under the circumstances, Giles felt perfectly free to refer to Gambill as his husband in his mother's obituary.  However, by the time the obituary appeared in print, all references to Gambill had been removed.

Giles contacted the newspaper's editor and owner, Phillip Hamilton, and asked what happened.  Hamilton's response was, "Because I wanted it cut out."  Hamilton, who is also a bi-vocational Baptist minister, said it's his "religious conviction that a man cannot have a husband."
Hamilton continued, “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."  Calling the paper’s edits “both ethical and lawful,” he added, “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,” Hamilton concluded, “I could not in good conscience identify Mr. Gambill as the husband of Mr. Giles.”
Ms. Light's obituary was printed in its entirety in other newspapers.  Mr. Giles and Mr. Gambill are pursuing legal options.

It really galls me that this so-called editor is allowing his religious convictions to interfere with his work in the newspaper business.  First of all, obituaries are not news.  People pay to put obituaries in the paper and they are very expensive.  I know my mom spent several hundred dollars on my dad's death notice.  She wrote it herself and it was not edited in any way.  Since she paid good money for that obituary, that was how it should have been.

It seems to me that if Mr. Hamilton felt so strongly about the reference to gay marriage in his publication, he should have said something when the obituary was submitted.  I still wouldn't think it was "right", per se, but at least these two men could have saved the money they no doubt paid for the obituary to be printed in the Olton Enterprise.  I don't know how much this particular paper charges for obituaries, but according to National Cremation's Web site, an average obituary costs between $200 and $500.  I think my mom paid about $600 for my dad's death notice.  That's not chump change.

Secondly, while I recognize that Mr. Hamilton owns the Olton Enterprise, he's still in the news business.  Part of what sustains the news business is the sale of ads and public notices, such as obituaries.  His personal feelings about gay marriage have no place in a person's obituary.  Moreover, while Hamilton certainly has every right to be a Christian and practice those beliefs, he must also realize that not everyone subscribes to the Christian mindset.  I think he should get out of the business of reporting and editing because he clearly lacks the objectivity required to report the news.  It sounds to me like news reporting has become a job too complicated for his very limited and narrow viewpoint.

And thirdly, gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states.  Marriage is a legal construct; therefore, if two people are legally married, and I presume Giles and Gambill are, they are, in fact, husband and husband.  It has nothing to do with what the Bible says.  The Supreme Court cleared things up for us quite nicely three years ago.  You may believe what the Bible says, but that doesn't make it law.  And the law is what goes in the United States, because the United States has no official religion.  I am so tired of religious wingnuts trying to cram their bullshit down people's throats, turning their beliefs into laws that affect everyone.

The Olton Enterprise is now getting hit with a lot of negative publicity on its Facebook page.  People are pissed.  Frankly, I hope Hamilton gets hit where he lives... right in the wallet in the form of reduced subscriptions and circulation of his rag.  What an asshole.

Here's an update.