Mississippi Newspaper Defends Gay Wedding Despite Homophobic Backlash
The LGBT community found compassion and understanding in perhaps one of the most hostile environments for gays: rural Mississippi.
The Laurel Leader-Call, a small newspaper that serves Jones County, issued a letter backing its decision to run a front-page story featuring the wedding of a lesbian couple.
On Feb. 7, the newspaper published the story of Jessica Powell and her partner Crystal Craven, who decided to exchange vows in a marriage-like ceremony; gay marriage is illegal in Mississippi.
The paper ran the story on its front page under the headline "Historic Wedding." Soon after, calls and letters asking the editors why they had allowed such story to be on the front page started to pour in. Fifteen people canceled their subscriptions, according to SheWired.
Then on Feb. 16, Leader-Call owner Jim Cegielski penned a response to reader defending the paper’s position to run the story on the front page:
"I took the bulk of the irate phone calls from people who called the paper to complain. Most of the complaints seem to revolve around the headline, ’Historic Wedding,’ and the fact that we chose to put the story on the front page. My answer to the ’Historic Wedding’ headline is pretty simple. You don’t have like something for it to be historic. The holocaust, bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Black Sox scandal are all historic. I’m in no way comparing the downtown wedding of two females to any of those events (even though some of you made it quite clear that you think gay marriage is much worse). I’m just saying that whether you liked the story or not, the first gay wedding to take place in Jones County is still historic," Cegielski wrote.
The owner added that the paper had never received a complaint about children seeing stories on "child molesters, murders and all kinds of vicious, barbaric acts of evil committed by heinous criminals," which the paper had printed several times.
Besides gay marriage being illegal, gay can’t adopt children and there are no legal protections for hate crimes related to sexual orientation and gender identity.