The announcement comes a week after GLAAD learned that the contest had excluded gay and lesbian people. Good As You blog first alerted us to the problem after discovering the contest's application included only "bride" and "groom" as options for applicants to choose.
After we called the network with concerns, NBC argued that it was excluding same-sex couples because "the couple must be able to be legally married in New York, which is where the wedding will take place."
GLAAD questioned the validity of that argument since New York State legally recognizes same-sex marriages licensed in other states. Same-sex couples can now legally obtain marriage licenses in Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Washington D.C. NBC mistakenly equated the marriage license with the wedding celebration. Same-sex weddings are entirely legal in New York State.
Our Call to Action prompted thousands of people to write to NBC and urge the network to give our community the same opportunity to share our stories of love and commitment and allow us the chance to participate in the contest.
This afternoon NBC and the Today Show did just that. Following a meeting between GLAAD and NBC executives NBC announced that after listening to community concerns it will open the contest to same-sex couples. In addition to opening the contest NBC is extending the application period until this Monday, July 12. Finalists will be announced later this year and the wedding takes place live on the Today Show this October.
"We're thrilled that 'Today Show's 'Modern Wedding Contest' now recognizes what most fair-minded Americans have already concluded - a wedding celebrates love and commitment, whether the spouses are straight or gay," said Jarrett Barrios, President of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). "NBC heard GLAAD and the thousands of viewers who contacted them. And they have moved to make their contest a truly modern wedding where any couple can share their story. NBC is living up to its own high standard of fairness and for this, we applaud them. We encourage qualified same-sex couples to submit their applications to make the new contest submission deadline of Monday, June 12 and we look forward to next year when same-sex couples will have the ability to apply to the contest from the beginning."
STATEMENT FROM NBC NEWS' 'TODAY' SHOW
Over the past few days TODAY has received a considerable response regarding our wedding contest application. The rules stated that eligible couples must be able to be legally married in New York, where we will host the wedding, therefore excluding same-sex couple applicants. Our intent was not to be discriminatory or exclusive. In 2005 when the wedding took place outside of New York, the application process was open to same-sex couples. We have listened to every voicemail and read every email. We take this feedback seriously, and we will change our application process. 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.