Mississippi | News

Rural Mississippi Newspaper Editor Defends Gay Wedding Story After Deluge of Hate Mail


This is the front page of the February 7 edition of the Laurel Leader-Call, a newspaper in rural Mississippi which found itself the target of so much hate mail for publishing a story about the wedding of Jessica Powell and Crystal Craven, that the editor was compelled to publish an editorial on Saturday defending it, Yahoo's The Lookout reports.

Though same-sex marriage isn't legal in Mississippi, the couple, one of whom battles brain cancer, exchanged vows and the paper felt it significant to recognize the first ceremony of its kind in the county.

Wrote its editor:

The job of a community newspaper is not pretending something didn't take place or ignoring it because it will upset people. No, our job is to inform reads what is going on in our own and let them make their own judgments. That is exactly what we did with the wedding story. Our reporter heard about the wedding, attended it, interviewed some of the participants and wrote a news story. If there had been protestors at the wedding, we would have covered that the exact same way … but there weren't any. We never said it was a good thing or a bad thing, we simply did our job by telling people what took place....

...We have stories about child molesters, murders and all kinds of vicious, barbaric acts of evil committed by heinous criminals on our front page and yet we never receive a call from anyone saying 'I don't need my children reading this.' Never. Ever. However, a story about two women exchanging marriage vows and we get swamped with people worried about their children.

I had at least 20 or so readers express to me they think gay marriage is "an abomination against God." We never said it wasn't. We never said it was...

...We were simply reporting to the best of our ability. However, I can't help but be saddened by the hate-filled viciousness of many of the comments directed toward our staff … No one here deserves to be berated or yelled at simply because we were doing our job.

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  1. Each and every time a bunch of morons get obnoxious about something so beautiful and loving, the percentage who support us increases. Thank you, assholes, you're bringing me my equal rights.

    Posted by: yuninv | Feb 21, 2013 6:38:27 PM

  2. Don't be too hard on Mississippi. They only just got around to abolishing slavery. :p

    Posted by: Steve | Feb 21, 2013 6:38:52 PM

  3. "No, our job is to inform reads what is going on in our own and let them make their own judgments."

    Apparently their job doesn't include profreading or checking to see if they any words out...

    Posted by: MikeKV | Feb 21, 2013 6:52:16 PM

  4. Same-sex marriages are not illegal in any state. Any same-sex couple can be married in any of the 50 states. It's just that most states and our federal government do not recognize these marriages.

    Posted by: SammySeattle | Feb 21, 2013 6:52:42 PM

  5. OK, this is RURAL Mississippi, folks, not Manhattan.

    This editor has some guts and is to be applauded.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Feb 21, 2013 6:54:13 PM

  6. Chitown Kev is right. The editor is to be applauded not just for running this story - but for understanding what journalism is about. Television news programs have completely lost this objectivity (maybe the PBS Newshour). We need more objective reporters covering all kinds of news.

    Posted by: Alan | Feb 21, 2013 6:58:54 PM

  7. Yeah, this is the state that just ratified the constitutional amendment to abolish slavery...THREE DAYS AGO.

    On another note, I'm really getting tired of giving any f*cks about what backward, ignorant rednecks think, but these people vote and their legislators listen.

    Posted by: beef and fur | Feb 21, 2013 7:02:39 PM

  8. @MikeKV - in this case - blame the messenger. The missing 't' is missing only from Towleroad. It's present in the original (see below) and in the Yahoo link, above.


    Posted by: Alan | Feb 21, 2013 7:07:27 PM

  9. Kudos to the editor for giving his readership a reality check. Same sex marriage unfit for children to know about but mass murder and child molestation OK?? Some people really need to have their moral compass adjusted.
    Would love to know if he received any response, positive or negative, on his editorial.

    Posted by: Swiminbuff | Feb 21, 2013 7:14:16 PM


    I love that he did not back-pedal. I can imagine the amount of vicious hatred and threats he got from "Christians" made him stand his ground, and damned good for him.


    Can you imagine when they were young they ever thought they'd see the day when a gay wedding -- theirs -- made the front page of the paper? I couldn't, and it is wonderful.

    Posted by: Strwpsi | Feb 21, 2013 7:15:42 PM

  11. Well, I want to applaud the man for standing up to the bigots and publishing such an inspiring story. I looked up his contact information and the closest thing to an email was: editor@leader-call.net, which I'm sending one to him to commend him on his efforts.

    Posted by: AriesMatt | Feb 21, 2013 7:23:20 PM

  12. I love this guy callin' Bullshiz on these people!

    He's absolutely correct. Hopefully he'll have made someone down there give it another thought.

    Posted by: Pete N SFO | Feb 21, 2013 7:40:47 PM

  13. Truth is, the bigots are afraid of us.
    We must be louder, more assertive, more combative, more in-your-face in demanding equality. Let them fear Armageddon, Rapture, End Days or whatever they are drinking with their meth this week. Most of all let them continue to fear our freedom.

    Let the bigots comfort their lonely dead beat lives in the arms of Leviticus; we have ample other examples from that source (David and Jonathan) and from history which teach us that homosexuality and gay married relationships were always celebrated and admired for their sincerity and intensity.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 21, 2013 7:59:21 PM

  14. I disagree. I think the paper did back-pedal a bit and cop out when saying the newspaper was not taking a stand and was just reporting "the news". If you read the story's headline and byline, and the original article itself, the tone is a bit more than neutral, bordering on congratulatory. While it may be true that if there had been opposition at the time they may have reported on that, too, it doesn't change the article's original intent. The newspaper's response was a cop out, meant to ameliorate the tide of controversy. It's a shame the newspaper felt the need to back down from their original stand, at least half-heartedly. But, hey, if the opposition falls for it and backs down themselves I guess that would still be a victory of sorts. It's a bit of a shock that such attitudes actually exist and are reflected in the press in good ol' Mississippi, of all places.

    Posted by: macguffin54 | Feb 21, 2013 8:07:01 PM

  15. Glad this newspaper is defending itself!!!! They are 100% right - these conservatives only become concerned with gay rights, but ignore everything else going on in the world like it's not more important. Let LOVE live

    Posted by: Reality | Feb 21, 2013 8:12:32 PM

  16. The Leader-Call is my hometown paper, and I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that this represents huge progress.

    Laurel isn't exactly "rural" to my mind, but it's definitely small and conservative. When Camp Sister Spirit opened just down the road over a decade ago, the lesbian owners had to post armed guards. Now the Leader-Call is running stories about same-sex weddings? Even though the editor is equivocating just a bit, his stand -- and by extension, that of the paper -- is extraordinary.

    Posted by: Richard | Feb 21, 2013 8:44:19 PM

  17. Laurel, Mississippi, where 37.5% of people under the age of 18 live below the poverty line. Sounds to me like they should be more focused on other issues but isn't that always the case.

    Posted by: hedwig | Feb 21, 2013 9:04:25 PM

  18. Birds gotta fly.

    Fish gotta swim.

    Christians gotta hate.

    Posted by: Continuum | Feb 21, 2013 9:09:03 PM

  19. I think much of the public outrage stems from the fact that it was an interracial marriage (this being Mississippi and all). The sight of a white woman cutting a piece of wedding cake for her black bride was probably enough to send the Bible-thumpers right over the edge!

    Posted by: Steve | Feb 21, 2013 9:42:28 PM

  20. Yes, @Alan and @MikeKV, Andy, Sam and the rst of the teem at Towleroad can be a bit slopy with there transcriptions, but I'll take slppy nws over no news.

    Keep up the good work guys!

    I wish that the Los Angeles Times had the journalistic integrity of the Laurel Leader-Call.

    Posted by: dbaudit | Feb 21, 2013 9:45:53 PM

  21. She's not black, she just has a dark tan.

    Posted by: TheGay | Feb 21, 2013 9:46:54 PM

  22. @Continuum: lmao

    Posted by: Mike B. | Feb 21, 2013 10:57:05 PM

  23. Even though I'm an atheist, every morning when I wake up, I thank God almighty that I'm not in Mississippi or Alabama or some other similar hell-hole like Uganda or North Korea.

    Posted by: Kevin Foster | Feb 21, 2013 11:11:54 PM

  24. After sending an email to the editor of the Leader-Call, this is the response I got:

    "Thank you, Matt ... I can't wait to pass on your kind words to our staff. It will mean a lot after so much hate-filled criticism. I appreciate you for taking the time to write!"

    Spread the love, people! Their email is: editor@leader-call.net

    Posted by: AriesMatt | Feb 22, 2013 1:05:30 AM

  25. That one of the women is battling brain cancer should have been enough to make most of the naysayers back off.

    Posted by: Coch | Feb 22, 2013 2:27:39 AM

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