A gay couple in Lancaster, PA, were surprised to see their engagement announcement rejected from a local newspaper because it wasn’t
“consistent with prevailing community standards.”
Jeffrey Clouser and Brent Weaver had hoped to put a paid $25 announcement in the Lancaster Sunday News but were rebuffed by the advertising department in an email. “I wanted to put it out there like any other couple has the right to put it out there,” said Clouser. “Lancaster, I was hoping, would be a little more progressive.” Clouser have been a couple for seven years and hope to marry in a state that has legalized marriage equality.
Lest you think this was the work of an overzealous ad rep, Lancaster Newspapers Inc. CEO Harold E. Miller issued the following statement:
“Our readers have come to depend upon our judgment, taste, tone and discretion in publishing advertising to be admitted into their homes,” Miller said. “They select our newspapers because of these qualities and we believe we are obligated to uphold their selection by declining to publish advertising announcements and notices which, in our opinion, are not consistent with prevailing community standards.”
In an interview with the Lancaster Intelligencer-Journal (which he owns), Miller clarified that prevailing community standards are “what we believe to be the most typical behavior in the entire Lancaster County community.”
Some members of the community, though are outraged at the paper’s reactionary stance: Two women picketed Lancaster Newspapers’ West King Street office today, carrying a sign that read “Free the press, print all engagement announcements.”
And Lancaster resident Scott Shumaker has started an online petition asking the paper to reverse its decision and for Miller to issue an apology. “I was extremely disappointed and surprised by the news,” Shumaker tells Queerty. I thought we were more progressive than this—we have major art institutions and universities,” like Franklin Marshall.
Shumaker says he and his partner have canceled their subscription to the Intelligencer-Journal and are considering contacting some of the paper’s larger advertisers. “Since the story broke yesterday, everyone in the gay community here has been talking about it.”
We’re surprised too—who’d think a dead-tree outlet would turn down anyone’s money.