(Photo: Screenshot/Laurel Leader-Call)
A local Mississippi newspaper recently received public criticism after it published, on the front page of its in-print edition, a story of a same-sex wedding with the headline: "Historic Wedding: Women wed in Laurel through smiles, tears."
Residents of Jones County, Miss., were reportedly upset because the Laurel Leader-Call referred to the same-sex wedding as "historic," even though same-sex marriage has not been legalized in the state.
The publication reportedly lost 15 subscribers over the front-page article, which was published Feb. 7, as well as received a torrent of phone calls, Facebook comments, and emails regarding its front-page story choice.
Many citizens of Jones County, which has a population of 67,761, took to the newspaper's Facebook page to express their objection to the front-page story.
While many cited the article as going against biblical teaching regarding same-sex marriage, others fired back, deeming these comments as "hateful" or "biased."
One commenter, Betsy McCarty-Livingston, defended her Christian beliefs, arguing that she believes "God loves everyone, but hates the sin."
Additionally, McCarty-Livingston argued that just because one opposes same-sex marriage does not make them a "hateful" person, as many pro-same-sex marriage commenters argued.
"I don't see 'hatred' in any of these comments. I personally believe that gay 'marriage' is wrong in the eyes of God. That is not how or what he intends marriage to be," McCarty-Livingston wrote.
"However, I realize that not everyone agrees with me or God on that subject. I do not think the article was news worthy, much less front page worthy," McCarty-Livingston continued.
"You seemed to get so defensive when someone disagreed with you, maybe you were basing your reaction off 'hatred' of those who don't agree with you. God loves everyone, he hates the sin. I have nothing against these 2 women, I just don't agree with their choice. I am a sinner saved but by the grace of God," she added.
Jim Cegielski, owner of the Laurel-Leader Call, issued a response editorial to the controversy last Saturday, arguing that the newspaper tried to report on the same-sex wedding ceremony in an unbiased manner.
"I had at least 20 or so readers express to me they think gay marriage is 'an abomination against God.' We never said it wasn't. We never said it was," Cegielski argued.
"We were simply reporting to the best of our ability," he added.
Those upset with the article disagree that it remained completely unbiased, arguing that the paper was attempting to "glorify" same-sex marriage through its portrayal of the wedding.
Those critical of the article especially took offense that a bolded quote from one of the brides read: "Love is love. It knows no gender."
The article described the wedding of Jessica Powell and Crystal Craven, two residents of Laurel, Miss.
The article focused on the wedding and also Craven's battle with brain cancer and her fight through chemotherapy.
Mississippi is one of 41 states in the U.S. where same-sex marriage in not legal.
A 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that 78 percent of residents in Mississippi oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage.