“TODAY” Wedding Contest Now Welcomes Same-Sex Couples

NBC has changed tweaked the rules of The TODAY Show’s annual wedding giveaway to include same-sex couples.

The morning show’s “TODAY Throws a Wedding” contest will now be opened to gays and lesbians after network executives reached an agreeement with representatives from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) on Thursday.

The contest has aired for 11 years and allows viewers to vote on which couple will win a wedding that is telecast live on the air. NBC says it previously prohibited same-sex couples from entering the competition because it was abiding by New York state law, which deems same-sex marriage illegal. But after GLAAD activists pointed out that a couple could get a marriage license in another state and still have a ceremony in Manhattan’s Rockefeller Plaza, the network relented and said it would permit same sex couples to apply for the “TODAY Throws a Wedding” competition as well.

“NBC mistakenly equated the marriage license with the wedding celebration. We’re thrilled that ‘Today Show’s ‘Modern Wedding Contest’ now recognizes what most fair-minded Americans have already concluded – a wedding celebrates love and commitment, whether the spouses are straight or gay,” said Jarrett Barrios, president of GLAAD. “NBC heard GLAAD and the thousands of viewers who contacted them. And they have moved to make their contest a truly modern wedding where any couple can share their story … we encourage qualified same-sex couples to submit their applications.”

As The Associated Press points out, there’s still no guarantee that viewers will be able to choose a same-sex couple for the ultimate wedding package. The network culls through thousands of applicants to give viewers a choice of four couples.

In a statement this week, NBC said network chief received “considerable response” regarding the controversy.

“Our intent was not to be discriminatory or exclusive. In 2005 when the wedding took place outside of New York, the application process was open to same-sex couples. We have listened to every voicemail and read every email. We take this feedback seriously, and we will change our application process. Moving forward, we ensure that our future wedding contests will be inclusive of all couples.”

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