NEW YORK CITY -- NBC's Today Show will open its annual Modern Wedding Contest to gay and lesbian couples.
The announcement comes a week after the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) began protesting the network's decision to exclude gay couples from this year's annual contest.
Network executives met with GLAAD representatives on Thursday.
"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," GLAAD said in a blog entry at its website.
Producers have also agreed to extend the deadline for the contest until Monday, July 12 to allow time for gay couples to submit their applications.
The popular contest asks viewers to plan the wedding – from soup to nuts – of one lucky couple, who then marry live on the air sometime in the fall on NBC's dime.
Executives at the network said they did not intend to exclude anyone, noting that gay marriage is illegal in the state of New York from where the show is broadcast. Gay advocates, however, pointed out that a gay couple could marry in neighboring Connecticut or Canada, or in nearby District of Columbia, and have the ceremony on the show. Additionally, the group argued, the state of New York recognizes the out-of-state marriages of gay couples.
Today producers will cull through thousands of entries before deciding on four candidates. Viewers will then pick which couple will receive their fairy tale wedding.