Christian Groups’ Sad Attempt to Get Advertisers to Leave the Maine Newspaper That Fired Anti-Gay Reporter

Whether it’s because the Human Rights Campaign complained or his editors realized he was a jerk, Maine’s Morning Sentinel reporter Larry Grard was fired after emailing HRC over its press release (which labeled supporters of the state’s anti-gay marriage Question 1 as haters) about how he, as a Christian, took offense. Now he’s got some Christian groups taking up his cause.

Grard, who worked at the paper for 18 years, responded to HRC’s press rep (Trevor Thomas? Brad Luna?) with copy like this: “Who are the hateful, venom-spewing ones? Hint: Not the Yes on 1 crowd. You hateful people have been spreading nothing but vitriol since this campaign began. Good riddance!” Management at MaineToday Media, which owns the Sentinel, had him fired. But now the Catholic League of New York and the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission of California are offering their legal services if Grard wants to get involved in a wrongful termination/religious discrimination suit. (Grard has already retained counsel with the Boyd Group’s Michael.)

And now the fight is heading to advertisers.

The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission — a not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to champion Christian religious liberty and to respond to anti-Christian defamation, bigotry, and discrimination — recently sent letters to MaineToday Media advertisers asking them to stop advertising. Those who declined are now on a list of boycotted businesses that the group has sent to Mainers who supported the “Yes on 1” campaign last November.

“We are determined to get justice for Larry, who stood with the majority of the citizens of Maine to defend marriage,” the group said in a statement. “We can’t sit back and allow a Christian to be fired simply for standing up for biblical values.” Gary Cass, executive director of the anti-defamation commission, said his group’s actions are independent of Grard’s legal battle, but he believes the former reporter was discriminated against.

The publisher disagrees. And for what it’s worth, it appears to not be working:

Richard Connor, head of MaineToday Media, said the anti-defamation commission’s efforts have failed to gain any traction. “This is a group from California that has a clear religious and political agenda, and they are attempting to interject that into a personnel issue and a journalistic issue,” Connor said. “They are using him as a pawn in a bigger conversation.” Connor said advertisers have said they are angry about being put on any list. “They want nothing to do with this,” he said.

C’mon. Advertisers aren’t going to ditch a newspaper for firing an anti-gay reporter. They’re going to ditch newspapers because their readerships are in the toilet and it’s cheaper on the web.

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