Des. News Nixes Gay Suicide Memorial Ad

The Deseret News will not run a paid advertisement for a memorial service honoring gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender LDS suicide victims and “those who have successfully overcome conflicts involving their sexual orientation and the LDS Church.”

The group Foundation for Reconciliation (also known as LDSApology.org) sought to place the advertisement in both the Salt Lake Tribune and the LDS Church-owned newspaper in late September, in preparation for the Oct. 4 event at the First Unitarian Church in Salt Lake City. Formed in response to the church’s support of last year’s Proposition 8, the foundation seeks an apology from the church for its treatment of gay and transgender people and gay and transgender Latter-day Saints in particular. Its Web site also houses information about the church’s stance on homosexuality, personal stories, and a list of 35 known gay LDS suicide victims, all but one of them men. It is also the home of a petition seeking reconciliation between the church and its gay and transgender members. To date, the petition bears hundreds of signatures.

On Sept. 30 Foundation for Reconciliation’s Executive Director Cheryl Nunn received an email from Gabe Morazan of MediaOne of Utah’s Client Relations department.

“Unfortunately I just received word from my management team that the Deseret News will not be running your ad,” Morazan wrote. “As you know the Deseret News is owned by the LDS Church and does review and approve all of the advertising that is placed within their publication.”

After apologizing for the inconvenience, Morazan gave the foundation a 25 percent discount on their advertisement— a refund of $105.

The advertisement, which includes a graphic of a wagon wheel, reads as follows:

“Bring Them In From the Plains”
From Despair to Hope

The Foundation for Reconciliation at www.ldsapology.org presents a Memorial Service, honoring LGBT suicide victims as well as those who have successfully overcome conflicts involving their sexual orientation and the LDS Church. Join us for an evening of music and the spoken word, including a special video appearance by actor Will Swenson.

Sunday, October 4 7:00 p.m.
First Unitarian Church
569 S. 1300 East Salt Lake City, UT

On Oct. 1, Nunn emailed Morazan to say she was “so disappointed” at the church’s decision. She asked to speak to the individuals who made the decision and asked that her ad be withdrawn instead of run in only one paper and that MediaOne issue a full refund.

“If I cannot advertise in both newspapers it does not make financial sense for me to run the ad in the _Tribune_ alone,” she wrote. “Our Memorial Service attendance should not be penalized because the LDS Church made a decision not to run my ad in the Deseret News.”

“Really, the bottom line is that I feel our contract has been breached,” she continued. “I placed an ad, believed that it was accepted and then after I was charged for publishing in both papers, I was informed that my ad was refused by the _Deseret News_ without any reason and would not be published in that paper as I had been told.”

According to Peter Danzig, Foundation for Reconciliation’s Communications Director, Nunn pulled the ad with the Tribune.

“She didn’t want to pay until she could see if she could resolve things with the _Deseret News_,” he said. The ad was scheduled to run in the paper on Oct. 3.

Brent Low, President of MediaOne Utah, did not return a phone call seeking comment by press deadline. On Oct. 1, however, Low told the Tribune that the company had to show any advertisement related to the LDS Church to the Deseret News and let them decide whether it can run.

“This one was directly talking about the church and sexual orientation,” he said.

Danzig said that the group was surprised at the church’s decision.

“We were kind of sad they wouldn’t run it because this would be an event that would be welcome to everybody,” he said, noting that the foundation had extended the invitation to LDS Church leaders. “We have active members who are participating in the program, and the whole point of the program is to talk about how people successfully solved issues around their orientation and religious belief in a variety of ways, and [how] to move from despair these victims of suicide felt to a new realm where there’s a lot of hope and where nobody felt suicide is the option.”

“I think we ought to pay the Deseret News,” he joked. “[Their refusal] got us better advertising than running it would have.”

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