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

Leadercall

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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Comments

  1. SEND THEM AN EMAIL THANKING THEM FOR STANDING UP TO THOSE THAT HATE REPORTING A MARRIAGE. I did and got a nice response back.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Feb 22, 2013 3:55:37 AM


  2. @ Kevin: Then you're not an atheist... Stop using that word to describe yourself please.

    Posted by: G.I. Joe | Feb 22, 2013 5:49:32 AM


  3. I've emailed them as well!

    Posted by: Tom B. | Feb 22, 2013 6:37:36 AM


  4. i thought i had contacted them through their contact link, but i think i will write them an email as well. if it takes away some of the pain and stiffens the spine of the staff, great. we all need a little applause when we do the right thing, and we seldom get it.

    Posted by: bandanajack | Feb 22, 2013 6:40:57 AM


  5. G.I. JOE: Your comment makes no sense. Please don't bring the "You aren't REALLY what you self-identify as" BS to Towleroad.

    Posted by: fedorajoe | Feb 22, 2013 8:33:58 AM


  6. Good for the editors!!

    Posted by: billmiller | Feb 22, 2013 9:42:55 AM


  7. Kudos to the Laurel Leader-Call for covering this wedding. Nobody's interests are served by pretending that weddings such as this don't happen outside the urban areas.

    Posted by: Peter | Feb 22, 2013 10:24:01 AM


  8. People who take the time to write letters to newspaper editors in small towns are probably not the type to have thought things through. Older, less educated, often retired or unemployed, very often having chips on their shoulders, sometimes paranoid, attention grabbers and often have a strong desire to be seen by the community as especially pious.

    Posted by: anon | Feb 22, 2013 1:27:37 PM


  9. Just wanted to share what I wrote in my email:

    To the editor of the Leader-Call:

    I recently read a story about how your paper was attacked by people were unhappy with a story run in the paper about a gay wedding that took place. Though I am not a resident of Mississippi, as a former Southerner, I know how difficult it can be to get past the overbearing nature of the more extreme fringe of the religious down there. However, reading about your editorial response to these attack makes me feel that there are some that are making a difference and standing up to the bullying of those who want to keep anything that does not fit within their narrow worldview in the dark and out of sight. To you and your staff, keep fighting the good fight, and don't let anyone try to bully you away from running the stories you feel are important to your community.

    (And they did respond to it, too.)

    Posted by: Tom B. | Feb 22, 2013 4:14:04 PM


  10. @ beef and fur

    Prop 8 won in Los Angeles. Are they backward ignorant rednecks?

    Posted by: David Hearne | Feb 23, 2013 12:02:50 AM


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