Same-sex couple accuses Texas newspaper of discrimination after obit was altered

A Texas same-sex couple is accusing a newspaper of discrimination after it removed a name from a family member’s obituary.

Barry Giles and John Gambill, who have been together for 31 years, said a local newspaper in Olton, Texas, removed Gambill’s name from his late mother-in-law’s obituary – citing “religious and ethical reasons.”

“We’re human beings like anyone else,” Giles told Fox 4 News. “We have feelings. We have relationships, whether he agrees with them or not.”

According to the couple, Giles’ mother, Brenda Light, died in February after a fall and the two included both their names and relationship in the obituary they sent to the Olton Enterprise.

In the obituary, they wrote: “Those left to cherish her memory include her son, Barry Giles and his husband, John Gambill of Dallas.”

However, when it went to print a few days later, Gambill’s name wasn’t there.

“It wiped John completely off the picture like he didn’t exist,” Giles said.

The couple called the newspaper’s publisher, Phillip Hamilton, to find out what happened.

“I said: ‘Why was my name left out?’ And he said: ‘Because I wanted to.’ And that's all there was to the conversation,” Gambill said. “Of course, I had a few choice words to say to him.”

Hamilton, who told Fox 4 News that he is a bi-vocational Baptist pastor, stood by his decision in a statement sent to the news station.

“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,” the statement said.

He went on to say 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,” Hamilton said.

The newspaper’s Facebook page was bombarded with negative messages, with one person saying it was “incomprehensible” that the obit was edited.

“The newspaper is not a religious publication. A personal obituary is a tribute to their life and to the people they loved and cherished,” the person wrote. “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 said the obituary was printed in full in other local newspapers.