Gay man erased from his mother-in-law’s obituary because newspaper publisher ‘opposes gay marriage’

A gay Texas man has spoken of his grief and anger after he was erased from his mother-in-law’s obituary.

Dallas couple Barry Giles and John Gambill, who have been together for 31 years, had placed an obituary for Mr Giles’ mother, Brenda Light, after her tragic death earlier this year.

The obituary, placed in local newspaper the Olton Enterprise, read in part: “Those left to cherish her memory include her son, Barry Giles and his husband, John Gambill of Dallas.”

However, the pair were mortified to discover that the newspaper removed the reference to Mr Gambill – who said Ms Light had been like a “second mother” to him for nearly three decades.

When the couple called the newspaper to ask about the change, they were told the copy was erased because of “religious and ethical reasons”.

Speaking to Fox 10, Mr Gambill said he was left distraught to suffer discrimination at such a difficult time.

He said: “She’s like my second mom, you know.”

The pair say that the newspaper’s publisher Phillip Hamilton, who is a Baptist pastor, had made the decision.

Mr Gambill said: “[I called them and] I said, ‘Why was my name left out?’ And he said, ‘Because I wanted to.’ And that’s all there was to the conversation.”

Mr Giles added: “It wiped John completely off the picture like he didn’t exist.

“We’re human beings like anyone else.We have feelings. We have relationships, whether he agrees with them or not.”

Hamilton said in a statement to Fox 10: “It is my religious conviction that a male cannot have a husband. It is also my belief that to publish anything contrary to God’s Word on this issue would be to publish something in the newspaper that is not true.”

“The newspaper’s decision to edit the obituary is both ethical and lawful. It would be unethical to publish a news item that is known by the editor to be false.

“Based on the truth found in the Word of God, I could not in good conscience identify Mr. Gamabill as the husband of Mr. Giles.”

The couple have little legal recourse, because there is no specific LGBT anti-discrimination law in Texas, and even if there was the newspaper owner could likely claim his actions were protected by the First Amendment.

They have, however, placed the obituary in several rival newspapers that printed it in full.

Related: ‘Overlooked’ Stonewall pioneer Marsha P. Johnson finally gets New York Times obit