NBC to change "Today" wedding contest after protests
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - NBC has agreed to change the rules of a "Today" show wedding contest after receiving complaints from gay activists slamming the annual event as discriminatory.
The morning show's "Modern Day Wedding" contest will be opened to allow same-sex couple after network executives met with Thursday with representatives from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
The contest, which got underway last week, has aired for 11 years and allows viewers to vote on which couple will win a wedding that is telecast live on the air.
NBC initially 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 countered that New York State legally recognizes same-sex marriages licensed in other states. "NBC mistakenly equated the marriage license with the wedding celebration," GLAAD said in a statement.
"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 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 ... we encourage qualified same-sex couples to submit their applications."
In a statement, NBC said the network received "considerable response" regarding the controversy.
"Our intent was not to be discriminatory or exclusive," the network said. "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. Moving forward, we ensure that our future wedding contests will be inclusive of all couples."
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