It’s one thing to refuse to publish their same-sex wedding ad. But to then charge them for it? The Dallas Morning News is quickly becoming the state’s most-hated newspaper. Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup, the couple who tried (and failed) to become the country’s first e-married gay couple, wanted to celebrate their union in the newspaper’s pages — but were rebuffed. The Morning News would run their announcement only in the “Commitments” section, not “Weddings,” a possible violation of the state’s ban on anti-gay discrimination in public accommodations, which the A.H. Belo Corp.-owned paper certainly engages in by operating a paid-for Weddings placement business. So while the Walkups await a ruling on their discrimination complaint, they have another chapter to add to their story: a $1,034 bill from the Morning News for the unpublished spot.
“Does the DMN always send out invoices to ‘customers’ who placed an ad online but it was never published due to the paper’s discriminatory policies?,” writes Dante in a letter to James Moroney III, the Morning News‘ publisher and CEO. “We just received an invoice today for our December ad that you banned from your paper because our wedding wasn’t ‘really’ a wedding in your eyes. Unbelievable.”
Moroney responds: “Not a good practice. I’ll take up with sales. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.”
Know what’s not a good practice? Keeping gays out of your Weddings section. Which isn’t a sales department matter, but an ethical one.
It sounds like incompetent computer programming and inadequate testing – nobody considered the case where a paper would refuse to publish a wedding announcement, so the program sent the bill regardless.
My guess – what will probably happen is that the software will send this bogus bill to a collection agency (all automatically), the couple will justifiably sue the paper’s ass for defamation of character, fraud, or what-have-you, and the paper will blame the computer instead of its inept staff (or a contractor’s inept staff depending on whom the bozo who wrote the code works for).
The discrimination is a separate issue, but what happened with respect to the billing seems to be more of a case of the sort of bug led to the acronym FUBAR.
At those prices, I don’t think I’d want to make the announcement, but then again I’m as cheap as they come (in every sense of the word).
@GregorVonK: Seriously. That’s way high. But if you are a millionaire or have tons of money, that amount becomes petty cash.
Please notice us. Please, please, please notice us.
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