December 08 2009 9:05 PM ET
A Maine news reporter who sent an inflammatory e-mail to the Human Rights Campaign the day after voters overturned marriage equality in that state claims that his editors fired him under pressure from the LGBT lobbying group.
Larry Grard, a veteran reporter with the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, said he sent an email from his personal account to an HRC press contact after reading a press release from the organization that said people who voted in favor of the anti-marriage Question 1 did so because of their hatred for gay people.
“They said the Yes-on-1 people were haters. I’m a Christian. I take offense at that,” Grard, 58, told political columnist Al Diamon in a Monday post on DownEast.com, a Web and print publication celebrating "Maine at its best."
"I e-mailed them back and said basically, ‘We’re not the ones doing the hating. You’re the ones doing the hating.'"
Trevor Thomas, HRC’s deputy director of communications, confirmed receipt of Grard’s e-mail and told The Advocate, “The day following the loss in Maine, HRC released a statement and shortly thereafter reporter Larry Grard responded with the following: ‘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!’"
From there, the stories diverge.
Grard said he was called into the office of Sentinel editor Bill Thompson, where he was told that HRC’s Thomas had called and demanded his firing. Then, according to Grard, Thompson fired him, saying, “There’s no wiggle room.” When contacted by The Advocate, Thompson declined to comment on the matter and said no other representative of the newspaper would comment either.
Thomas acknowledged that upon receiving the e-mail, he and his colleagues quickly discovered that Grard worked for the Sentinel and subsequently contacted the editor. “I had one e-mail interaction with his editor, where I [wrote]: I received the below e-mail this morning after our national media release was sent to your team. ... It’s frankly just not acceptable coming from a news organization the morning after our defeat,” Thomas said, adding, “at no time did I ask for Larry to be fired.”
Thomas continued, “The editor did not contact me further. The management team of the newspaper did let me know they had policies in place and were looking into the matter. It is my understanding they conducted their own review. I only learned Larry was fired from a reporter asking for comment.”
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