Texas newspaper omits same-sex spouse's name in obituary

A same-sex couple in Dallas is accusing a newspaper of discrimination after the paper omitted one of their names in a family member's obituary.

After Barry Giles' mother, Brenda Light, died in February, the local newspaper in Olton, Texas, removed his husband's name from her obituary, citing "religious and ethical reasons," Fox 4 News reported.

In the original obituary sent to The Olton Enterprise, Giles wrote, "Those left to cherish her memory include her son, Barry Giles and his husband, John Gambill of Dallas." Giles and Gambill have been together for 31 years.

However, when it was published, there was no mention of Gambill.

"It wiped John completely off the picture like he didn't exist," Giles told Fox 4 (KDFW-TV).

Gambill told the station Light was "like my second mom" and he was upset to see he was cut from the obituary. The couple immediately called the newspaper's publisher, Phillip Hamilton.

"We're human beings like anyone else," Giles said. "We have feelings. We have relationships, whether he agrees with them or not."

When Gambill asked why his name had been left out, he says Hamilton told him, "Because I wanted to."

In addition to a newspaper publisher, Hamilton is also a Baptist pastor, according to Fox 4.

"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," Hamilton said in a statement to Fox 4.

"The newspaper respects the first amendment rights of those who express such opinions. 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," the statement continued.

The paper has since faced criticism on its Facebook page.

"It's incomprehensible that Philip Hamilton thinks his job is to edit a personal obituary. The newspaper is not a religious publication. A personal obituary is a tribute to their life and to the people they loved and cherished," one user commented. "These people were family and Hamilton took it upon himself to delete that part and person out because he felt his personal opinion came before the memory of another person and their family. Very unprofessional."

The couple is looking into what legal options they can take. The full, unedited obituary was published in other local newspapers.

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