When it became clear that John Christopher Millican would not recover, his partner of 10 years, Terrance James, was the only person at his side. Alone, he made the difficult decision to end the life support. Mr. Millican passed away on June 11th of this year.
Wrought with grief, Mr. James filled out the paperwork for his late partner’s obituary for the local publication, the Batesville Guard. When the obituary ran, however, it listed the names of Millican’s deceased parents, his siblings, with whom he had little contact, but no mention of Terrance James or even that there was a surviving partner.
We called the Batesville Guard and spoke to Pat Jones, the general manager. She quickly became defensive and told us that we could call her son Oscar, who is a lawyer. She had obviously been through this phone call several times already. When questioned, Pat told Queerty “It’s not a gay thing. We don’t list unmarried couples, in-laws, or pets in the free obituaries.”
But for a fee of $85, they would print whatever Mr. James wanted. Feeling the pressure, she told us that she took in a foster son who turned out to be gay and that she loves him all the same. We wonder whether she would omit his partner from an obituary. Not to mention his pets. She said that they “are looking into the policy.” If you’d like to let the Batesville Guard know your thoughts on the matter you can reach it at 870-793-2383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unsure of where to turn, Mr. James contacted the Center for Artistic Revolution (CAR), which is the leading LGBT equality group in Arkansas. CAR posted a note to Facebook that has garnered some action. Randi Romo Executive Director of CAR told Queerty: “We feel that it is just as ludicrous and heinous to omit a common law husband or wife as it is to omit Mr. James. We would like to see the paper apologize to Mr. James, to rescind the policy and to print the original obituary listing him as the surviving partner.”
6/23/11 – Editor’s Note – The spelling of Randi Romo’s name has been corrected.