Mississippi Newspaper Silences Staff on Gay Marriage Issue

Clay Foster, publisher of Mississippi’s third-largest newspaper, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, held a meeting with the company’s top leaders two days before his column appeared in print to condemn the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to legalize gay marriage. He informed the group at the meeting of a policy to not accept wedding announcements of same-sex couples.

He also said any employee could leave who didn’t like his column or the company’s policies related to stifling speech at the news organization and discriminating against same-sex couples.

Foster, publisher and CEO of Journal Inc., also sent an internal email to the company’s other publications. It owns the Mississippi Business Journal, eight weekly publications in Northeast Mississippi and five weeklies in the suburban Memphis area….

…However, leaders at other Mississippi newspapers say their news organization will publish same-sex wedding announcements banned by the Tupelo-based newspaper. Sam Hall, executive editor of The Clarion Ledger told me last week that the news organization will publish gay wedding announcements. Jim Gaines, editor of the Starkville Daily News, wrote an editorial in Monday’s edition explicitly stating the newspaper’s policy on wedding announcements of gay couples.

“We’ll publish them as we will publish any other wedding announcement,” Gaines said.

Birney Imes, editor and publisher of The Commercial Dispatch in Columbus, Miss., said the he and others at the paper decided long before the Supreme Court ruling to accept marriage announcements of all couples.