Support Mississippi Newspaper for Refusing to Pull Gay Marriage Cover Story

Target: Jim Cegielski, owner of Laurel Lead-Call newspaper

Goal: Commend newspaper on featuring unprecedented gay marriage as the cover story.

A newspaper in Mississippi, the Laurel Leader-Call, published a story about the wedding of two women. While gay marriage is not legal in Mississippi, Jessica Powell and Crystal Craven exchanged vows in downtown Laurel. Support the Laurel Leader-Call for reporting this story despite public opposition.

About a year ago, six months after Craven and Powell began their relationship, Craven was diagnosed with brain cancer. She has undergone three surgeries, and in the newspaper article was quoted saying, “If chemo doesn’t work, we don’t know what happens after that.” The ceremony between Craven and Powell, and their relationship together, seems to have brought both immense joy despite Craven’s health. Newlywed Powell, after the ceremony, said to a reporter from the Laurel Lead-Call that, “Love is love, it knows no gender… I don’t remember voting on straight marriage, so why is gay marriage an issue?”

Following the front page newspaper article, the Laurel Lead-Call was send a deluge of hateful letters, emails, Facebook posts, and phone calls. Jim Cegielski, owner of the newspaper, handled most of the phone calls. Individuals were upset about the headline “Historic Wedding” and the fact that the story was run on the front page of the newspaper. Fifteen people canceled their subscription in protest, and at least twenty readers expressed that gay marriage is “an abomination against God,” others simply stating, “I don’t need my children reading this.” As Jim Cegielski pointed out, “We never said it was a good thing or a bad thing, we simply did our job by telling people what took place.”

Signing the petition below will commend Jim Cegielski and the Laurel Lead-Call on doing their job, and doing it well. By not backing down on their convictions to run a controversial story, the newspaper is making a stand on the side of journalism and news reporting. The people who personally send vicious, hateful messages to the staff of Laurel Lead-Call should not be able to sway the convictions of a news organization with their hate.


Dear Jim Cegielski,
Thank you for featuring the news story about Jessica Powell and Crystal Craven’s wedding on the front page. By weathering a barrage of hate and viciousness, you’ve made a stand on the side of journalism, upheld your convictions, and refused to back down from doing your job.
It’s true that you shouldn’t need to defend all of your decisions at Leader-Call. It’s also true that, “any decent newspaper with a backbone can not base decisions on whether to cover a story based on whether the story will make people angry,” as you said in your newspaper editorial responding to the public’s reaction to the wedding story. You showed that Leader-Call is beyond any doubt a newspaper with a backbone—and integrity, honesty, and a commitment to news.
I commend how well you, and all of those at Laurel Leader-Call, are doing your job. Thank you again for your dedication and integrity.


[You Name Here]

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One Comment

  1. Lauren Donna Graham says:

    Given that the Klan is still active in Mississippi and extreme religious fundamentalists are willing to commit acts of violence against those who don’t kowtow to their narrow views, this is an amazing act of conscience.

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