MOUNTAIN HOME, AR, February 3, 2011 ( – An Arkansas grocery store that was criticized for putting a magazine “shield” over the cover of a new US Weekly featuring the story “Elton’s Baby!” has since apologized and ordered the shield removed.


The Harps Food Inc. location in Mountain Home, Arkansas covered the photo of Elton John, his same-sex partner, and the baby they recently obtained using a surrogate mother after receiving complaints from customers last week.  The shield, distributed to all Harps stores, is often used to cover inappropriate cover content “to protect young Harps shoppers.”

Gay rights activists slammed the store management for “homophobia.”

Just one day later, Harps management removed the sign and issued a statement of explanation and apology.

The stores are provided with the “shields,” wrote Kim Eskew, Harps President & COO, “which can be used at the manager’s discretion to cover the front of magazines when they receive complaints from our customers … photos might be sexually provocative or too revealing … titles might also be too suggestive for some customers.”

“In this case our store manager received some complaints and, as has been our custom, placed the shield over the cover of the magazine,” Harps’ president explained.

“Our true intention is not to offend anyone in our stores,” added Eskew.  “When brought to our attention, we reversed [removed the shield].”