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CINCINNATI -- The Kroger Co. here has switched its position on allowing gay and lesbian newspapers to be distributed inside some of its Nashville, Tenn.-area grocery stores, according to an Associated Press report. About a month after the retailer removed the "Out & About" monthly newspaper from racks at 34 of its Nashville-area stores, it said earlier this week that it now would allow them to be distributed.
The grocer said in a statement that it has a process for all free publications to be distributed at its stores, and the company that manages its free publication racks -- DistribuTech -- didn't follow that process with "Out & About."
Last month a Kroger spokeswoman cited a company policy against displaying publications that promote "political, religious, or other specific agendas" as reason for the removal.
However, Kroger reportedly allows the display of gay newspapers at its stores in other markets, such as Atlanta. Supporters of "Out & About" also noted that alternative weekly newspapers with political columns and advertisements for strip clubs in the Nashville area were available in the stores.
Members of Nashville's gay and lesbian community last month organized a weeklong boycott against Kroger and Harris Teeter, which also removed the newspapers. Organizers say the boycott cost the two stores more than $15,000.
Jerry Jones, publisher of "Out & About," told the AP that Kroger officials met with members of Nashville's gay and lesbian community and determined that the newspaper wasn't published with a political agenda.
Jones said he was pleased with the company's decision to allow the newspaper in eight stores in areas where the paper identified readership as high.
"Out & About" is still not available at three Harris-Teeter stores, where it was removed by the same distributor, according to the AP. A spokeswoman said the company is still reviewing the issue and expects a decision next week when its executive team meets.