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'Today' show decision to open wedding contest to gay couples spurs heated debate

Today show wedding pic
NBC's decision to allow gay couples to enter the "Today" show's annual wedding contest triggered a passionate online debate Friday, opening a new front in the fiercely waged battle over same-sex marriage.

The move came the same day as a federal judge in Boston ruled part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, ratcheting up the legal fight over the rights of gays to marry. Activists on both sides are also keenly anticipating a court ruling on the legality of California's ban on gay marriage.

The popular "Today" wedding contest, now in its 11th year, is an unexpected forum for a debate over social change. The segment invites viewers to act as wedding planners, voting on the couple who will get to marry at Rockefeller Plaza, what they will wear and where they will honeymoon. The theme of this year's wedding, which is scheduled to be held Oct. 6, is "modern love."

"Today" announced its decision Wednesday night after executive producer Jim Bell met with representatives of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which had complained that the contest application provided only an option for "bride" and "groom."

NBC said the contest had been limited to heterosexual couples because the weddings take place in New York state, which does not issue wedding licenses to gay couples. But after GLAAD leaders noted that New York recognizes the wedding licenses of gay couples legally obtained in other states, producers decided to change the rules.

"Our intent was not to be discriminatory or exclusive," the show said in a statement posted on the "Today" website Wednesday night. " 'Today' is a longtime supporter of the LGBT community, and GLAAD considers us an ally. We are committed to keeping those relationships strong and positive. We have opened up the application process to same-sex couples, and will extend the deadline to Monday, July 12. Moving forward, we ensure that our future wedding contests will be inclusive of all couples."

GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios heralded the move, saying the group was "thrilled" that the program "now recognizes what most fair-minded Americans have already concluded -- a wedding celebrates love and commitment, whether the spouses are straight or gay."

"Today's" decision lit up online forums, where posters engaged in emotional exchanges.

"Thank you to 'Today' and GLAAD for not being bold and unafraid -- leading the way in realizing that fairness, love, modernity deserve to exist and be expressed in ways that are sometimes even in spite of laws that say otherwise," one poster wrote on the show's website.

"I am totally disappointed in the 'Today' show," responded another. "The Bible clearly states what is marriage and it also states the abomination of this kind of acts between men and men and women with women. God is not pleased and neither am I. What about my rights!!!"

"Thank you," countered another writer, who said he was a longtime viewer. "My son is gay and I want him to grow up in a world where he knows that he is welcomed not excluded."

Nearly 800 comments were posted on the show’s Facebook page by Friday morning, with some warning that the show would lose viewers and others tussling over the interpretation of Biblical verses addressing homosexuality.

The raw responses suggested that the top-rated morning show will continue to field strong reactions to its decision, particularly if a gay couple is selected to be part of the group of finalists that competes on-air for the prize.

"NBC has lost my viewing and support," read one comment on the show's website. "Stick to what's legal and not what SOME few want. So I'm guessing one of the four finalist will definetly be of this group to make everyone happy??!! Majority won't be happy. We weren't made to be in a same sex relationship. Liberal media working here!"

One poster, "Bill the banker," who claimed to watch the show every morning before work, said the change could make for a livelier competition: "Equality may have paved the way for one fun and interesting wedding contest this year!”

-- Matea Gold


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Photo: Last year's winners, Leigh Daniel and Nick Cordes, are congratulated by Al Roker, Meredith Vieira, Matt Lauer and Ann Curry. Credit: NBC

Comments () | Archives (61)

This same-sex marriage uproar all seems like a lot of time and money wasted just so that heterosexuals can feel superior to the gay children they created.

Just sayin.'

Eating shellfish is also considered an abomination if you want to hew closely to biblical mores (Leviticus, I believe). Good for the Today show.

It's time.

Kudos to "Today" and its upcoming program "Modern Day Wedding."

Onward to full civil and marriage equality rights in the 21st century,
Joe Mustich & Ken Cornet, Justices of the Peace
Washington, Connecticut, USA.

As justices of the peace, we perform non-religious civil marriage ceremonies all the time in CT, where civil unions were legalized in 2005 and marriage equality in 2008. Kudos to CT and its citizens.

Biblical versus?? Enough people your religious choice has no bearing on others beliefs or non beliefs. Keep your beliefs at home!

I don't think this is a good decision and here's why. If all 50 states agreed on same sex marriages , then there would be no problem with it. But not all states agree, so this will more than likely, as it has already done, cause an uproar among the gay partnerships that live in states that don't allow gay marriage. It's not a good idea. I don't agree with same sex marriage by the way.

I applaud NBC and the "Today" show for their courage to include gay couples.

One small piece of advice, however, for those who can't understand why anti-gay marriage people won't see it our way. They also can't understand why we can't/won't see it their way. Their way is the ONLY way, as they see it. They will never change in that view.

Stop arguing with them. It only makes them talk louder, just like my five-year-old child. Move on.

High morals in this country has been lost on many of us so this is just another sign of how far down our society has slipped. Just trying to watch MSNBC the other day and was frustrating because of all the inflammatory crap that these news shows try to sell to people as entertainment. The Today show is just the latest to sell their souls to the highest bidder.

Inevitably, the Bible gets dragged into this debate. Well, if you're not Christian, the Bible means little if ANYTHING to you. In the story, one woman bewails "God doesn't approve and neither do I. What about my rights?" -- It takes some mightily HUGE cojones to speak for God, regardless your religion! As for her rights, I don't believe ANYONE is violating her rights in any way? The fact that she's quoting from the Bible and speaking on God's behalf confirms that. This issue isn't a religious issue, never has been, never will be. There are those that would paint it with the brush of religion because it suits them and their cause. It would be wise to remember, however, that religion itself is a creation of humans; that is a fact NO ONE can deny, though I'm certain many will.

I am tired of the focus on the gay marriage isue. It is not legal in all states so even if someone gets married in NY, their hoe state may not even recognize it. What sense does this all make. But that being said, I will no longer watch the show and will DVR it to find out who advertises on it and notify thme of my displeaseure. That is my right and my choice .

Good for NBC...to look at all relationships as equal....now just watch out for the Holy Rollers..fuming at the mouth like rabid dogs.....

Polygamy, inter-familial unions & necrophilia must be next, since only cruel bigots consumed by H8 oppose loving unions.

As a man who legally married my boyfriend during the California "window of opportunity" I am naturally pleased with "Today's" decision. To the nay-sayers, though, I simply ask you to think about what the whole purpose of the competition is: to provide an excited, in-love couple a lavish, magical day that they will remember their whole lives. And just like anyones' weddings whether televised or not, all is asked of you is loving support. If you cannot love and support the couples that are marrying, please do not come to the wedding. You are not welcomed anyway. If, however, you remember how you felt the day you exchanged your vows with your intended and can transfer that gift to any two other crazy-in-love adults that are not you, then grab a handful of rice and wish them well. Congratulations, "Today."

I'm happy to see that gay couples will be included in this contest....it's been a long time coming. I really do try to respect people's personal opinions, especially in regards to faith. I am a christian, but I don't believe that homosexuality is a sin. I just believe with all my heart that God created us exactly the way we were meant to be. I've had long soulful heart wrenching talks with gay friends that helped me realize that being gay is not a choice. Why a loving God would do this to test a person's faith to anyone is beyond me. I've been married to the same man for 25 yrs. I cannot imagine my life without him. We have a traditional marriage. I chose to stay home and raise our kids. I have no regrets. I would however like to address those people who are so against gay marriage. Why do you feel so threatened? How do you think gay marriage makes a mockery of your heterosexual union? I have gay friends who are legally married and believe me they deserve all the same rights you & I have. The church should not interfere with government & vice versa. Same sex marriage has been legal here in Canada for quite some time. I personally do not know any straight married people whose lives have been negatively impacted because of this. As a matter of fact the world is still turning and all of my gay married friends have settled nicely into every day life.

There really isn't much worth watching on NBC anyway. Doubtless this explains why shareholders wish the NBC network would be spun off or sold, so the corporation can again focus on the things that matter to the investors, and not the social engineering agenda of some corporate manager who's career will end when the Peacock again changes hands.

Kendall - so, your real reason is because you don't "approve." Well, no one asked you. Also, some states that have legalized same-sex marriage do not have a residency requirement. IOW, a couple can get a marriage license there, even if they don't live there. They can then go to NYC with that marriage license in hand, and their marriage is recognized. But, the legal mumbo-jumbo is really a red herring. The Today Show is not issuing a marriage license; they are awarding a ceremony, a celebration of love. As for the person quoted in the article against the decision, saying,"What about my rights?", I'd like to know how her rights are being violated?

I love how the one woman mentioned in the article said, "God is angry!" What - did she have a one-on-one conversation with Mr. God after the Today show made its decision? Please. Live and let live. If you don't approve of same-sex marriages, then don't marry someone of the same sex.

Another reason to boycott NBC......time to hit the email list.

Why is it that this debate ignites comments about how it's against the bible? Not everyone in this country believes in the bible. Even though Christianity is the main religion in this country doesn't mean that there are not other religions that accept same-sex marriage. This country was built on the saying "All men are created equal" so why does everyone think that gays have less equality just because they love someone of the same sex? Do they not buy the same clothes and food as heterosexuals do? Do they not live in the same places? They do! So why can't they be part of a contest where everyone else gets to participate?

Good for the "Today" show! This country needs to expose themselves more to other peoples views in life.

The bible. Talk about LOL time. Its time all the "Christers" got lost with their idiotic beliefs that some guy died for our sins. Are these people crazy????

Shame on NBC for giving in and having no morals, guess I won't be watching this show anymore

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