July 6th, 2010
The official eligibility requirements are:
Each applicant must: (1) be part of a couple submitting an application; (2) be at least twenty-one (21) years of age as of July 9th, 2010; (3) have become engaged to be married prior to July 9th, 2010; (4) be a permanent, legal resident of the United States and must have a valid United States passport; (5) not be subject to any travel restrictions and must agree to obtain the requisite immunizations (for the honeymoon), if necessary; (6) be of good moral character; (7) have never been convicted of a crime of any nature (other than moving violations of a misdemeanor type that did not involve personal injury, drugs or alcohol), and (8) have nothing in their background that would be an embarrassment to NBC News or TODAY (as determined by TODAY, in its sole discretion); and (9) not be an elected official or currently running for any political office (local, state or federal).
Oh, and it goes without saying, the couple must be heterosexual.
NBC provided the following fascinating justification for this policy to GLAAD:
“For the TODAY show wedding, the couple must be able to be legally married in New York, which is where the wedding will take place.”
Which has about the same validity as saying that Jews need not apply because they’re using a Catholic Church for the ceremony. If your venue is discriminatory, change the venue.
Or if they absolutely must be in New York, allow the couple to cross the border into Connecticut for a courthouse legality before performing the ceremony and celebration in New York, which would then recognize their out of state legal document. That could even be a fascinating bit of drama for NBC to illustrate the extra burden on gay couples in the Big Apple.
As GLAAD notes, NBC is not in the business of handing out marriage licenses. Their only role in the matter is to provide the ceremony, and that they could do for gay couples as easily as straight.
The Today Show is awarding a wedding celebration, not a marriage license. If a same-sex couple won the contest, producers and the winning couple could easily work together to ensure that the couple properly obtained and complied with the requirements of a marriage license in one of the license-conferring jurisdictions. The full wedding celebration would then take place on the Today Show.
NBC’s explanation rings hollow. A likelier reason is that NBC is afraid that homophobes would protest and call them liberal media activists. So they’ll just exclude gay people to avoid all of the hassle.
And besides, this is all about the celebration of heterosexual wedded bliss and who wants that marred by The Gays?
(hat tip: Jeremy at Good_As_You who first noted the exclusion)
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