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07/18/2008

Aren't we too entitled to lovely parting gifts?

by Jeremy Hooper

As you may or may not know, the Game Show Network is relaunching "The Newlywed Game." And as you also may or may not know, same-sex couples are currently marrying in two of our nation's states, as well as obtaining civil unions in four more. So that of course means that newly-wedded gay and lesbian couples will be totally eligible for the revised version of the '70s era game show classic, right?

Well, not so fast, queer fans of televised compatibility tests. For if the "Newlywed Game" rules and requirements that were sent to us by a reader are to be believed, it seems that our unions might not make the cut:

Picture 5-140

Yes, that's right -- the producers seem to be using a non-DOMA-proof marriage definition, which would seem to disqualify those of us who cannot obtain federal recognition for our legal unions. Which, if true, is kinda...

200807180848.

After all, who stereotypically loves the game shows more than gays. And hello -- Paul Lynde? Charles Nelson Reilly? Fannie Flagg? What community has contributed to game shows more than the gay and lesbian set?

But at this point, we're only going on this special stipulation in the eligibility requirements. We're checking with producers to confirm that this gay-lessness is indeed the case, and that is not just a not-so-well-thought-out misprint. We'll have that bonus round for you of updates for you, right after a brief commercial break.

Newlywed Game eligibility requirements (pdf) [Embassy Row]

**UPDATE, midday Friday: We haven't forgotten about this. We have put in a few different requests for more info through a few diff. channels. So far there's been no response. Stay tuned.

**UPDATE, end of day Friday: Frustratingly, we've still received no word.

**UPDATE, 7/22: Well at least one gay's confirmed for 'Newylwed' [G-A-Y]

space gay-comment gay-G-A-Y-post gay-email gay-writer-jeremy-hooper


Your thoughts

If they tape in California, I'm pretty sure that agreement would be against the law. Hopefully a nice newly-wedded gay couple will file a suit.

Posted by: Mark | Jul 18, 2008 9:19:25 AM

Just to play devil's advocate, it might be the case that the company has no choice but to impose such a rule in order to comply with the federal tax code (deductibility of expenses, etc.), which of course is governed by federal DOMA.

The real question is whether anyone audits the hetero couples to make sure that there are no second cousin weddings, underage weddings, impermissible antenuptial agreements, etc., all of which are illegal in some states. If not, then someone should definitely call shenanigans on them.

(Meanwhile, based on what I know of the Unruh Act, Mark's comment is 100% correct.)

Posted by: KipEsquire | Jul 18, 2008 9:43:26 AM

Yea, that's why we're writing them Kip -- to find out the deal. We'll see.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 18, 2008 9:49:41 AM

Yes, was going to ask where filmed. Because if in California or New York, it could be illegal.

Posted by: LOrion | Jul 18, 2008 10:12:27 AM

From what I can gather after reading the entire agreement, it seems to me that taping may be in New York because of this statement:

"(xviii) this agreement shall be deemed to be entered into in New York County, New York, and shall be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the State
of New York applicable to agreements executed and performed entirely within the State of New York."

ALTHOUGH - NY, Gov. Paterson recently re-enforced a law which states that the State of NY must recognize and provide benefits for same sex marriages which were legally performed out of state since New York's law recognizes all out of state marriages.

So (IMHO) then as in Mark's case a couple from Massachusetts or California may have grounds to sue if the taping takes place in NY and they are denied to participate as contestants.

Posted by: Kevin | Jul 18, 2008 10:24:14 AM

Gov. Patterson's order only applies to the Executive branch. Courts still have to operate under the Court of Appeals, which delegated the judiciary's definition of marriage to the State Legislature. So for now at least, there likely wouldn't be grounds for a suit.

Posted by: Dave | Jul 18, 2008 11:32:43 AM

I wouldn't read too much into that "New York" language. It looks like a mere choice of law clause for arbitration/litigation purposes, similar to a cruise line contract stipulating (as they usually do) that the contract was "entered into" in Florida and will be governed by Florida law, even if the cruise is from New York to Europe.

If the show were administered/taped in New York, I don't think the Paterson (one t please) executive order would matter, but other anti-discrimination laws might. If it's in California, then that state's Unruh Act (which is wildly expansive) would almost certainly apply.

Posted by: KipEsquire | Jul 18, 2008 1:36:41 PM

This site says it's taped in NYC and has already been in production for about a month:

http://singles.meetup.com/232/messages/boards/thread/4683681

Posted by: KipEsquire | Jul 18, 2008 1:53:25 PM

If it's taped in New York, then it's probably in legal limbo. A couple married in Massachusetts or California would probably have to sue in order to force the New York courts to examine the issue. That's something that is generally best left to an organization like GLAD (they argued the Massachusetts marriage case) so that they can make sure that the cases which go before the courts are the cases likely to win.

Posted by: Mark | Jul 18, 2008 5:17:37 PM

Isn't this like the first time you can use DOMA for your own advantage, or am I completely not understanding how this works?

Posted by: Corvidae | Jul 18, 2008 6:13:58 PM

It's not illegal. They are not the government, they can do what they want with their show.

Posted by: Tom | Jul 18, 2008 10:22:47 PM

I'm not so sure it's that cut and dry, Tom. But I do think we're getting a little too bogged down in the legal argument before hearing what the production/casting company has to say. The point for me is that if they are explicitly banning gay couples, it's JUST PLAIN WRONG (whether they can legally get away with it or not).

I want to hear the facts. I'm actually quite frustrated that nobody I have contacted has gotten back to me on this. They could have just nipped this in the bud right away.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 18, 2008 11:42:37 PM

My guess is that it was just an oversight that caught the producers by surprise at the end of a busy week just before the show begins airing and also just before most of their staff flees to The Island (Fire) for the weekend. The fine print in the rules and regs was probably the product of lawyers working in another department and never read by the producers. Now they have to scramble to read and determine what the fine print actually says and then formulate a plan of public action. Lawyers, doing what they do, probably tried to make sure that everyone would be compliant with federal tax code. It just so happens that the federal tax code is used to penalize and marginalize folks whose mating behavior does not conform to that which is allowed by certain Christian denominations.

Posted by: Scott | Jul 19, 2008 5:43:49 AM

"It's not illegal. They are not the government, they can do what they want with their show."

That really depends on the state, Tom. In California, for example, businesses cannot discriminate against gays and lesbians. Carving a "your marriage must be valid in all 50 states" clause into your contract is pretty clear in terms of excluding gay people, so it would not be legal in California. I don't know the particulars of the laws in New York, but it's not just government agencies which are required to follow the law.

Imagine if the contract had said, "All married couples must be white." Would you still be arguing that since they are not the government, they can do whatever they want with their show? I'm guessing not.

Posted by: Mark | Jul 19, 2008 2:10:38 PM

@KipEsquire: 26 USC ยง 162 does not stand for the proposition that, for a game show to deduct prizes awarded, that the couples must be married.

Posted by: Kevin | Jul 19, 2008 11:27:59 PM

Legality aside, let's not forget protest as a way to get our point across. A noisy picket line outside a taping in New York City would draw a dozen media outlets in very short order.

Once the show starts airing the question is going to be raised more and more.

Posted by: Tom Henning | Jul 21, 2008 1:04:52 PM

Tom: Well we still want to make sure there is something to protest. Hopefully we'll get official word back from producers this week.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 21, 2008 1:24:47 PM

This is an outrage! Daytime television is the native artform of gay and lesbian people!

Posted by: Kate | Jul 21, 2008 10:43:46 PM

Judy Gold is hosting this. http://www.tvsquad.com/2008/06/25/hosts-announced-for-the-dating-game-and-the-newlywed-game/
http://www.reuters.com/article/televisionNews/idUSN2539967820080625

I find it hard to believe that she'd host something so blatantly anti-gay. Have you heard back from the network?

Posted by: Rebecca | Jul 22, 2008 2:54:06 PM

Thanks for the reminder, Rebecca:

http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2008/07/well-at-least-o.html

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 22, 2008 3:28:02 PM

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