A reporter for a Maine newspaper who sent an accusatory email to the Human Rights Campaign last month, one day after Maine voted to repeal gay marriage, has lost his job as a result. Now the Portland Newspaper Guild has filed a grievance on behalf of Larry Grard, demanding that he be reinstated.
"They said the Yes-on-1 people were haters," Grard told DownEast.com. "I'm a Christian. I take offense at that. I e-mailed them back and said basically, ‘We’re not the ones doing the hating. You’re the ones doing the hating.’ I sent the same message in his face he sent in mine."
According to HRC, however Grard's actual email read, "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!"
Grard, who appears to report primarily on local events rather than politics, had not covered the marriage issue and sent the email as a private citizen. He did not expect his connection with the paper to become known, but after an HRC worker spotted the message the organization quickly discovered that Grard worked for the Waterville Morning Sentinel and contacted the paper to complain.
Conservative blogs are now blaming Grard's firing on the "gay-left lobby," but HRC deputy communications director Trevor Thomas insists, "At no time did I ask Larry to be fired, but instead had one email interaction with his editor where I said: 'I received the below email 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.'"
The paper made its own decision to let Grard go, as well as terminating his wife Lisa's biweekly food column. According to DownEast, "The Sentinel and the other MaineToday papers editorialized in favor of same-sex marriage." Grard now he blames the lost of his job on "anti-Christian bias."
Although Grard had never incurred disciplinary action during his 18 years with the Sentinel, it appears that this was not the first time he had expressed his personal opinions in what might be considered an intemperate manner. On January 4, 2008, for example, a "Larry Grard" of "Winslow, Me." commented at an MSNBC blog, "Hillary Clinnton is despised, and we owe [Obama] a huge, collective thank you for bringingi down the most evil public figure in American history."
The Newspaper Guild is supporting Grard's demand for reinstatement on the ground that his contract "requires that there be progressive discipline in situations like this." An arbitration hearing is expected to be held within three or four months.