The publisher of a daily Virginia newspaper that printed an anti-LGBTQ editorial earlier this month, questioning both the right of same-sex couples to marry and the very existence of transgender people, reportedly called the screed an “honest mistake” and an error of proofreading.
The comments came after the publisher and the CEO of the newspaper chain, Pittsburgh Pirates owner Robert Nutting, spoke and agreed the attack was unintentional.
On Monday, ThinkProgress reported the Winchester Star — a paper owned by Nutting’s Odgen Newspapers chains — recently ran an editorial attacking Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) for touting “Virginia’s dubious 21st century achievements — i.e., homosexual marriage, elevation of the transgender lifestyle, etc.”
The paper’s publisher, Mike Gochenour, told ThinkProgress that his paper “has a long history of supporting and advocating for LGBTQ rights … and will continue to do so,” attempting to justify the complaint about “homosexual marriage” as a poorly worded criticism of the way marriage equality came to Virginia. The federal courts struck down Virginia’s unconstitutional prohibition on same-sex unions in 2014 and the Supreme Court overturned all such bans in 2015.
Gochenour did not respond to questions about how erasing transgender people’s identities, as the editorial did, was supportive of LGBTQ rights.
He told us by phone that he had a conversation with Nutting about the editorial after it was published, and after a Virginia progressive political blog and ThinkProgress criticized it. Gochenour said the two of them concluded that the editorial “went south, unintentionally, from the beginning” and that “it wasn’t presented well at all but it certainly wasn’t the intent.”
Gochenour elaborated: “We learned from the editorial that we need to proof better and just make sure that never happens again. It was an honest mistake that just shouldn’t have happened. But unfortunately, it did.”
Outsports noted that despite Gochenour’s suggestions that the anti-LGBTQ editorial was a mere error of proofreading, as of press time, it had still not been edited, corrected, or removed from the paper’s website.
Nutting has still not responded to questions from Outsports and ThinkProgress about the incident. His Pittsburgh Pirates, like many Major League Baseball teams, have attempted to present themselves as LGBTQ-inclusive, hosting an annual Pride Day and posting an It Gets Better video.
ThinkProgress reached out to Gochenour again to followup on Thursday morning. He did not immediately respond.
UPDATE: After ThinkProgress reached out on Thursday morning, the editorial was deleted from the Winchester Star website. Gochenour still has not explained the decision publicly.