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Deseret News pulls ad for gay suicide memorial

Published October 1, 2009 5:12 pm

Memorial » Event offers "hope" to those conflicted by Mormon faith, sexuality
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In addition to irreverent coffee pitches and same-sex wedding announcements, a plug for a memorial for gay Mormon suicide victims can be added to the list of ads the LDS Church-owned Deseret News won't run.

MediaOne, which handles advertising for both the News and The Salt Lake Tribune , accepted payment from the nonprofit Foundation for Reconciliation to run an ad, announcing a memorial service this Sunday, in both papers. But on Wednesday, a MediaOne employee told the group's Cheryl Nunn that the ad had been rejected by the News.

"Anything that's related to the church we have been asked to present that to [the Deseret News ] and then they decide," said MediaOne President Brent Low. "This one was directly talking about the church and sexual orientation."

Without receiving the discount offered from advertising in both papers, the group asked to pull the blurb from the Tribune , as well, and received a full refund, Low said.

In August, the News declined to run a wedding announcement for a gay couple wed in San Francisco. In 2007, it rejected a coffee shop ad that showed the store's owners wearing Mormon missionary uniforms -- but the News has a policy that bans all ads for coffee. Same goes for alcohol, tobacco, tea and adult entertainment.

The foundation's memorial, "From Despair to Hope," honors lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) suicide victims as well as "those who have successfully overcome conflicts involving their sexual orientation and the LDS Church," the ad states. The event features a video appearance by actor Will Swenson, known for his roles in Mormon-themed films "Sons of Provo" and "The Singles Ward."

Peter Danzig, a Salt Lake City spokesman for the foundation, called the newspaper ad "innocuous."

"There's nothing anti-Mormon," he said. "We tried to create an event that would be welcoming to everyone on either side of the issue."

Danzig hopes remembering the "suffering" of those who have taken their own lives because of despair felt from conflict arising between their sexual orientations and Mormon faith and families will "compel" attendees "to create hope for other people."

The service is Sunday at 7 p.m. at First Unitarian Church, 569 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City.

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