Newly appointed top Arizona Republic Editor Randy Lovely (left), replacing Ward Bushee, says he doesn't think his being gay will be an issue in conservative Arizona. "Arizona is a pretty libertarian environment,'' he told Editor & Publisher. "People support individual rights."
When Lovely, 43, was named Republic managing editor in 2002, he told E&P: "All I have to be is true to myself and true to the responsibilities I've been given. I'm not going to deny coverage to the gay and lesbian community to prove something to the rest of the readership, but I'm also not going to turn The Arizona Republic into the community's gay-and-lesbian newspaper. You can't get caught up in that or you start to second-guess yourself too much."
The Republic's circulation averaged 382,414 on weekdays as of November, ranking it No. 11 among U.S. papers. I think I know one other top editor at a U.S. newspaper who's gay, but his paper's circulation is lower than the Republic's. That would make Lovely one of the most influential gay journalists at a time when the Republic is in a position to dig up all sorts of stuff about Arizona Sen. John McCain, now seen as the front runner among Republicans in the 2008 presidential race.
Lovely isn't just blowing smoke about Western libertarians. Favorite political son Barry Goldwater turned into something of a gay rights activist late in life. And I felt so at home living in Boise from 1991-1996 that I came out -- in a big way -- in The Idaho Statesman, then owned by Gannett. Nearly all the more than 150 letters and phone calls I got in response were overwhelmingly positive.