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CTRL+ARK+DEL: Arkansas Man Deleted From Partner’s Obituary By Local Paper

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gay blog, gay news, gay cultureAn Arkansas man has been deleted from his deceased partner’s obituary by his local paper.

Terence James lost his partner of 10 years, John Millican, to spinal meningitis. He was the person to make the decision to turn off the life support that was keeping his partner alive. He was the only person in Millican’s family to care for him.

“He was an awesome, incredible and exceptional person,” James told Arkansas Matters.

And yet, when James placed an obituary in the local paper, the Batesville Daily Guard, it was printed without any mention of his name – or his relationship to Mr. Millican.

“They saw fit to print the names of his deceased parents and three siblings… but not the person who shared 10 years of his life. Not the person who was entrusted to make the decision when to remove life support,” James said.

When contacted by Queerty, the newspaper’s general manager responded, saying, “It’s not a gay thing. We don’t list unmarried couples, in-laws, or pets in the free obituaries.”

For a fee of $85, grieving families can determine the full content of their obituary.

To be fair, it seems that the Batesville Daily Guard was, well, caught off-guard by the firestorm of criticism that erupted due to their removal of the same-sex partner’s name from the obituary. We can understand not allowing pets and in-laws in the free obits, given space considerations. However, it might not be the best policy to ignore unmarried couples, as more and more people are choosing to live in love without marriage.

The paper has been in business for over 80 years, and they are certainly realizing that they might just have to change with the times.

“I think it certainly is something, a policy, that should be reviewed,” said Oscar Jones, the newspaper’s attorney.

(via UB reader Bob Rogers/Arkansas Matters)

  • After 10 Years together through thick and thin, apparent sickness and health and until Death They did Part, they were in all ways Married!!! The Paper just didnt choose to recognize it. I send my deepest condolences for the loss of a Partner to Mr. James. May his Life Be Blessed! The Nutz!

  • When my mother died in January, my local paper printed my name and my partner’s name, per my step-father’s request.  I cannot imagine how horrified I would have been to see that they had deleted her name from the obituary.  My deepest sympathy for Mr. James for this inexcusable behavior on the part of the editorial staff of the Batesville Daily Guard.  They should be ashamed for such behavior.

  • I am sympathetic to the paper in this case, and to the dissed same sex partner both. It’s a lose lose proposition for the paper. If they present the surviving partner, they are outing the deceased and perhaps upsetting or offending the deceased family that perhaps had no clue. If they omit the surviving partner it is very cruel to that partner, but he is the one person.

    This is one reason why Gay marriage is so important, because it gives clarity to situations such as this.

  • I am sympathetic to the paper in this case, and to the dissed same sex partner both. It’s a lose lose proposition for the paper. If they present the surviving partner, they are outing the deceased and perhaps upsetting or offending the deceased’s family, friends and co-workers that perhaps had no clue. If they omit the surviving partner it is very cruel to that partner, but he is the one person.

  • ShowMeGuy

    Got some *hillbilly* action down at the Batesville Daily Guard.
    Lots of people *living in sin* over the past 25 years….I bet if someone does some digging, they will find the survivors in unmarried both gender couples…..have in fact been listed in the freebie orbituary section.

  • Umm.. if the person is dead, I really dont see how outting them is a problem.

  • Anonymous

    That sounds like something that should be decided by the surviving partner. Has this newspaper dealt with this before? If the lawyer says review the policy, it will probably be changed. If it happens again, then form an angry mob…

  • Anonymous

    “and his partner of 10 years,” hardly takes up a lot of word space. The paper is being disingenuous, or perhaps they really do live in the 10th century.