Questions over corporate policy raised after Nashville store removes gay paper
Despite the removal of an LGBT newspaper from Kroger stores in the Nashville area, the Dallas Voice will continue to be available on shelves at the Cedar Springs branch, a spokesman for the corporation said Wednesday, June 13.
“We will have the Dallas Voice at the Cedar Springs store,” said Gary Huddleston, director of consumer affairs for the 212 stores in Kroger’s Southwest Division. “Most divisions work autonomously on product as well as other matters, and this is one of them.
“We’ve had a relationship with the Dallas Voice, and we’re going to continue to have that,” Huddleston added. “We’re going to do what’s best for the neighborhood and the markets where we operate, whether it’s going to be product or publication.”
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that copies of Out and About, a monthly newspaper for gays and lesbians in Tennessee, had been pulled from 34 Kroger stores in the Nashville area.
A spokeswoman for Cincinnati-based Kroger told AP the corporation has a policy against displaying publications that promote “political, religious or other specific agendas.”
“Kroger strives to be a store for the entire community, and that necessitates remaining neutral on many issues,” the corporation said in a statement, according to AP.
“We think this is a fair approach to everyone,” the statement said.
Locally, Kroger’s policies became an issue recently after the Voice ran a story about the Human Rights Campaign’s recommendation that people avoid shopping in the corporation’s stores.
The national gay civil rights group gave Kroger a score of 35 out of 100 in the annual Corporate Equality Index. That ranked the chain 38th or sixth from last, in the food, beverages and groceries category.
Although Kroger has an equal employment opportunity policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, the policy does not include gender identity. Also, Cincinnati-based Kroger, which is ranked 21st in the Fortune 500, does not offer domestic partner benefits and does not support an LGBT employee resource group, according to HRC.
The Voice story prompted an outcry from employees of the Cedar Springs Kroger widely known as the “gay Kroger” due to its location in the heart of Oak Lawn who said the corporation has always been supportive of the local LGBT community.
For example, the Cedar Springs Kroger has participated in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade 11 years running; has attended every annual LGBT job expo; makes daily donations to the food pantry at AIDS Services of Dallas; and has participated in annual Easter basket and Christmas wreath auctions benefiting AIDS Services of Dallas.
Voice Publisher Robert Moore called the situation in Nashville “unfortunate.”
“Any action taken to restrict access is a step backward for the GLBT community and GLBT media,” Moore said.
Moore said the Voice “has a strong, long-term relationship” with the Cedar Springs Kroger, both in terms of distribution and advertising.
“In Dallas, they reach out to GLBT consumers,” he said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 15, 2007.