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columnist in dispute with editor over participation in gay
parade

Newspaper
columnist in dispute with editor over participation in gay
parade

A gay New Jersey newspaper columnist is in an apparent dispute with his editor over his participation in a gay pride parade in Allentown, Pa., last Saturday. Frank Whelan has worked for The Morning Call newspaper since 1981 but has not returned to work since taking part in the parade. Whelan and his partner of 25 years, Bob Wittman, were asked to be grand marshals of the Allentown event, run by Pride of the Greater Lehigh Valley, according to a report by The Express-Times newspaper. The Pride group's Web site states: "The selection of Frank and Bob by Pride supports the need for marriage equality." Whelan told the Express-Times that Ardith Hilliard, editor of The Morning Call, expressed concern that his participation in the parade might run counter to the paper's ethics policy. By supporting same-sex marriage, she said, it could appear that Whelan was biased on an important social issue. "A newspaper's responsibility is trust as much as it is news and information," a statement from Hilliard read. "To ensure the credibility and independence of The Morning Call, it is paramount that our journalists guard against conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflict. Accordingly, The Morning Call, like most newspapers, has a code of ethics for its journalists to protect our credibility and impartiality." But Whelan said the parade organizers were merely using his relationship as an example and that he, himself, has taken no position on same-sex marriage. "I have no interest in being an advocate for gay marriage one way or another," he told The Express-Times. Vicki C. Mayk, director of community relations and communications for The Morning Call, said the dispute has not gotten Whelan fired from his role of writing the Ask Frank history column and a society-watch column. "We had never planned to fire him about this issue and have no plans to do so," Mayk said. She added later, "He's a valued member of our editorial staff, and we look forward to his return. Beyond that, this is a personnel matter, and it's our policy that we don't comment on personnel matters." (The Advocate)

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