NYT 's Big Gay Celebration

More than 300 same-sex wedding or commitment announcements have appeared in The New York Times in the past seven years -- now many of the featured couples are coming together to commemorate Stonewall.

BY Charles Kaiser

June 02 2009 12:00 AM ET

Alan Van Capelle and Matthew Morningstar Xlrg (courtesy) | advocate.com

All that changed very dramatically when Arthur Sulzberger Jr. succeeded his father as publisher in 1992 and as chairman of the New York Times Co. in 1997. Sulzberger Jr. made it clear to everyone that he would not tolerate an iota of prejudice against the paper's LGBT employees, and the decision to start running same-sex wedding announcements was the culmination of that philosophy.

Kim Severson is a Times food reporter who announced her commitment to her partner, Katia Hetter, in the paper three years ago.

The first thing Severson reads every morning is the sports section, but on Sundays the first thing Katia reads are the wedding announcements ("as if they were the sports section," Severson says) -- so the announcement was most important to Hetter. But Severson concedes, "The Times announcement added a level of legitimacy that would have been missing -- there's nothing else like a wedding announcement in the Times. "

And there's nothing quite like the reach of the Times, either. When Laurence Diamond married Grant Schneider, the five-paragraph announcement caught the attention of someone Schneider hadn't heard from since they were in 10th grade biology together. "I grew up in a small town in Georgia," Schneider says. "The guy confessed to me that he had gotten married, but then he got divorced -- and now he's with a man."

Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, and his partner, Matthew Morningstar, were both 32 when their commitment ceremony was written about in the paper.

Morningstar was a graduate of Columbia College and Cornell Law School, while Van Capelle got his BA from Queens College in New York City.

"The Times demanded to see copies of Matthew's diplomas," says Van Capelle. "But they never asked for mine. I guess they thought no one would lie about going to Queens College."

Van Capelle says the Times didn't care that "one of my grandfathers was one of the last Dutch governor-generals of Indonesia or that my father was a vice president of his international union." But the fact that his partner's mother was "retired as the first vice chairwoman of the women's committee of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington" was deemed newsworthy by the paper of record.

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