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03/16/2018 03:46 pm ET

Newspaper Scraps References To Gay Man's Husband In His Mom's Obituary

The publisher of Texas' Olton Enterprise said he did so for "ethical, religious" reasons.

A Texas newspaper is standing by its decision to remove all references to a gay man’s husband from his mother’s obituary. 

When Dallas resident Barry Giles originally submitted an obituary for his mother, Brenda Light, to the Olton Enterprise, it read, “Those left to cherish her memories include her son, Barry Giles, and his husband, John Gambill, of Dallas.”

By the time Light’s obituary appeared in the Feb. 23 edition of the newspaper, however, Gambill’s name had been removed. 

“It wiped John completely off the picture like he didn’t exist,” Giles, who has been with Gambill for 31 years, told Fox 4 News. “We’re human beings like anyone else. We have feelings. We have relationships, whether [the publisher] agrees with them or not.”

Gambill told the Dallas Voice he immediately contacted the Olton Enterprise’s owner and editor, Phillip Hamilton, to ask what had happened. Light, he said, had been “like a second mom,” traveling with the two men to Europe, Australia and New Zealand before her sudden death on Feb. 14. 

“Because I wanted to cut it out,” Hamilton said, according to the Dallas Voice

Hamilton, who is reportedly also a bi-vocational Baptist pastor, didn’t refute the couple’s claim. In a statement released Thursday, he said it’s his “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,” he said. 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.”

Light’s obituary, meanwhile, had been printed in full in a number of other local newspapers without editing, Giles said. 

Since news of the story broke this week, the Olton Enterprise’s Facebook page has been filled with negative reviews. 

“The fact that your newspaper would do something so hideous and despicable to a grieving son and his husband defies my ability to adequately shame you for it,” one person wrote. “If your editor has his head so far up his own ass that he’s unaware that gays can get legally married now, maybe he should have gone into theology instead of journalism.”

Added another, “Your personal opinions and beliefs have no place anywhere but the editorial page.”

Giles and Gambill have said they will pursue legal options. 

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