Grocer pulls gay papers from rack

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A regional homosexual newspaper has been pulled from racks at Nashville-area Kroger grocery stores; the newspaper’s publisher calls the action discriminatory.

“This is last thing that I thought would happen,” said Jerry Jones, publisher of Out and About, a monthly newspaper for homosexual readers in Tennessee. “It’s a concern because it could happen to any publication.”

A Kroger Co. spokeswoman said the Cincinnati-based company has a policy against displaying publications that promote “political, religious or other specific agendas” and cited the need to remain neutral.

Newspaper supporters say Kroger enforces the policy inconsistently, noting that Kroger allows the display of homosexual newspapers at its stores in other markets, such as Atlanta, and alternative weekly newspapers with political columns and ads for strip clubs in the Nashville area.

Kroger strives to be a store for the entire community, and that necessitates remaining neutral on many issues,” Kroger said. “We think this is a fair approach to everyone.”

Kroger allows the Southern Voice, an Atlanta-based homosexual newspaper, to be distributed on its stands in Atlanta-area stores.

“It would be interesting to know why there is a different policy from one store to another,” said John Wade, president of the Nashville Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Chamber of Commerce.

The Nashville Scene, an alternative weekly, is offered free at Kroger stores in Nashville, and it regularly publishes political columns, along with advertisements for strip clubs and dating phone lines.

A distribution company called Consumer Source Inc. had a contract to place Out and About in 34 Kroger stores and three Harris Teeter grocery stores in the Nashville area, but the company says it canceled the deal.

“Our regional manager had noticed the publication in Kroger stores, and upon review it didn’t fit our policy,” said Nichole Bigley, a spokeswoman for Georgia-based Consumer Source, which also publishes free apartment, housing and auto guides.

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