Mississippi Newspaper Sparks Hate with Same-Sex Wedding Coverage
A newspaper in Jones County, Miss., The Laurel Leader-Call, is under fire after publishing a front-page story on the first same-sex wedding to take place in the county.
The story, written by self-described conservative reporter, Cassidi Bush, was titled, “Historic Wedding: Women wed in Laurel through smiles, tears,” and told the inspirational love story between Jessica Powell and Crystal Craven, revisiting how they met and fell in love, and how Jessica stayed by Crystal’s side through a diagnosis of Stage 4 brain cancer. It also touched upon the usual details that you find in a wedding write-up, such as what they wore—Jessica in a stunning sweetheart gown with sparkling waistline embellishment from David’s Bridal and Crystal in a pretty powder blue vest, complete with a cowboy hat to hide the scars from her recent surgeries.
Unfortunately, readers were unable to see it for what it was—a heartfelt article telling the story of two people in love—and bombarded the staff with hateful phone calls, emails and Facebook messages. Instead of backing down and revoking the article, owner Jim Cegielski backed his writer and the decision to run the wedding on the front page in an op-ed piece. “Many of the calls I received had the caller stating something to the effect ‘I don’t need my children to read this.’ Ugh. We have stories about child molesters, murders and all other 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.”
“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 readers what is going on in our town and let them make their own judgments. That is exactly what we did with the wedding story,” he writes. “Our reporter heard about the wedding, attended it, interviewed some of the participants and wrote a news story.”