We arrived in Batesville 11 strong at nine sharp, and it didn't take long for the temperatures to begin to climb as we stood directly across from the front of the Batesville Daily Guard.
The paper opened a window and set up a tripod and camera to video tape our group. A photographer came out and took pictures. No reporter from the paper came out.
After getting ourselves set up we sent two representatives into the paper to attempt to speak with Pat Jones the publisher. We wanted to ask for an apology for Mr. James, free re-printing of the obituary that included Mr. James and a change to the free obituary policy that would allow ALL surviving partners gay or straight to be recognized as the surviving life partner. The current policy forces these survivors to pay $85.00 if they wish to be listed as their loved one's surviving partner. She refused to speak with them and ordered them off of the paper's property whereupon they complied.
Our signs called on the paper to "Change the Policy" and reminded them that "All Families Matter". We also had sings that said "respect", "apologize" and "dignity - $85.00?"
A woman pulled up and while attempting to take a picture from her vehicle window informed us that Terence was her son and she thanked us for helping him. About 45 minutes later she returned having gotten permission from Terence's doctor to take him out of the hospital for just a short time to come and see that people were standing up for him. His mother joined the line for just a bit while we took turns talking to Terence and wishing him a speedy recovery. He is improving, but is expected to have a long recovery.
There were no counter protestors or other disturbances of any kind. A gentleman from a local church arrived with a cooler of ice cold bottled water. His generosity was well received.
At about 11:00am the paper's lawyer, Oscar Jones (who is also the publisher's son) arrived and after some time inside came out and asked for one representative to come inside. The results of this meeting were fairly minimal.
They agreed to run the obituary to include Terence that GLAAD had previously arranged to pay for. These funds the paper says will be reimbursed to Terence to donate to a charity of his choice.
They maintain the "no apology" stance stating the policy was in place when this happened and they refuse to consider their editorial as deeply offensive to Terence and his family
They have agreed to call their board together to evaluate and possibly change the policy, but still no date as to when.
We have agreed to give the holiday weekend and then determine Tuesday if this meeting has been set. We intend to keep pressing for the apology as well.
Between HRC's petition numbers, GLAAD’s and what we have generated here in AR we estimate that the paper has received more than 6,000 contacts. Please, keep calling and emailing! Help us keep the pressure on!
YOU can help by continuing the phone calls and emails!
Oscar Jones, Attorney and Publisher’s son, 870-793-3206
Angelia Roberts, Editor, 870-793-2383 firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrea Bruner, Assistant Managing Editor, email@example.com
Larry Stroud, Associate Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat Jones, Publisher, 870-793-2383, email@example.com