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Forum's same-sex wedding announcement policy under review

FARGO - The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead is reviewing a publication policy in response to a controversy that arose online Monday evening.

The newspaper received multiple negative comments on its official Facebook page and an online petition was started after it refused to print a Fargo couple's same-sex wedding announcement.

The two - Kelsey Smith, 27, of Fargo, and Allison Johnson, 31, of Austin, Texas - live in Fargo but are to be married Aug. 1 in New York City.

Johnson said she submitted the request to the paper early Saturday for the wedding notification to be printed next Sunday, but she received an email Monday morning that told her The Forum does not print engagement or wedding announcements for same-sex couples.

"I think the simple idea that we're not able to announce our celebration is just, in my opinion, hurtful," Johnson told The Forum late Monday evening. "I felt like we were treated unfairly."

In an official response, Forum Editor Matthew Von Pinnon said the rule is under review.

"The Forum is reviewing its policy about publishing same-sex announcements," Von Pinnon said. "This is the second such request in recent months. We will communicate a decision once it's made."

Johnson snapped a photo of the email and posted it online. She also wrote an open letter criticizing the policy and sent a copy to the mayor's office and to the newspaper's Opinion editor.

The situation has created a storm of negative comments on the paper's official Facebook page, and spawned an online petition on the website calling for the newspaper to allow same-sex announcements to be printed.

The petition had more than 800 signatures by 11 p.m. on Monday.

One Facebook user who posted on the Forum's page Monday said the situation disappointed her.

"I have always looked to the Forum as a source for local news," Katie Jacobson wrote. "I was extremely saddened to learn that the Forum discriminates against same sex couples."

Johnson said she hopes the policy will be discussed seriously and changed in the near future.

"I do hope that the policy changes, and that Fargo Forum listens to the community you guys are working for," she said.

Johnson said the wedding is being held in New York because the state recognizes same-sex marriage. The reception, she said, will be held in Fargo.

Marriage in North Dakota is explicitly defined as "between one man and one woman," according to the state's Century Code.