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Newspaper editor removes reference to gay husband in obituary

A newspaper has been slammed for removing a reference to a man's husband from his mother's obituary.

Key points:

  • Olton Enterprise editor Phillip Hamilton says he removed the reference to Barry Giles' husband in the obituary because it did not align with his religious views
  • Readers labelled Mr Hamilton as a "bigot"
  • Mr Giles and John Gambill have been in a relationship for more than 30 years

The Olton Enterprise published the obituary to Brenda Light in its paper on February 23, but edited the original tribute sent to the publication.

The obituary said: "Those left to cherish her memories include her son, Barry Giles, and his husband, John Gambill, of Dallas."

But the published version had no reference to Mr Gambill, and said: "Those left to cherish her memories include her son, Barry Giles of Dallas".

According to Dallas Voice, Mr Gambill contacted the editor of the Olton Enterprise, Philip Hamilton, questioning whether the newspaper received the tribute in full.

Mr Hamilton told him he intentionally left Mr Gambill out of the obituary.

Mr Gambill, who has been in a relationship with Mr Giles for more than 30 years, had a good relationship with his mother-in-law and said she was like his second mother.

In a statement to Fox News, Mr Hamilton, a bi-vocational Baptist pastor, said the decision to remove the reference to Mr Gambill aligned with his religious values.

"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," he said.

Mr Hamilton claimed 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 Gambill as the husband of Mr Giles."

Three people stand in front of the pyramids in Egypt.

'Your editor is a bigot'

A number of readers have criticised Mr Hamilton's decision, with many labelling him a "bigot".

"The fact that your newspaper would do something so hideous and despicable to a grieving son and his husband defies my ability to adequately shame you for it," Mark Brower wrote on Facebook.

"Your editor is a bigot and uses his religious views to justify his bigotry. Your readers are not all Christians, and the ones who are don't all subscribe to the editor's bigoted interpretation of Christianity, and they deserve better.

"If your editor has his head so far up his own ass that he's unaware that gays can legally get married now, maybe he should have gone into theology instead of journalism."

Mr Gambill backed another comment made on the Olton Enterprise's Facebook page by another reader Jessie Colt.

"The editor, Phillip Hamilton, is not, in any way, shape, or form, a real Christian," the reader said.

"This is obvious by his recent decision to edit the name of a lawfully married spouse out of an obituary.

"According to Mr Hamilton, 'it would be unethical to publish a news item that is known by the editor to be false'. Since the couple in the story are lawfully married in the United States, Mr Hamilton has decided to take it upon himself to decide that US Federal and State laws are invalid and his personal religious beliefs mean more than the laws in this country."

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