Grocery Store Un-Censors Elton John's Baby Picture

A grocery removes "family shield" over image of Elton John's family.

January 26, 2011, 3:56 PM

Jan. 26, 2011 — -- A grocery store in Arkansas reversed its decision to put a "family shield" over the cover of the current issue of Us Weekly that showed a picture of Elton John and his partner David Furnish with their new baby Zachary.

"In this case our store manager received some complaints and, as has been our custom, placed the shield over the cover of the magazine," said Kim Eskew, president of Harps Food Stores, Inc., in a statement on the company's website. "When we began receiving complaints at our corporate office, we reviewed the magazine in question, removed the shield and are selling the magazine in all our locations today without any shield.

The shields -- typically placed over the covers of racy adult magazines -- were spotted by shopper Jennifer Huddleston while she was standing in the checkout line at a Harps market in rural Mountain Home, Ark.

Offended that someone presumably took offense at the photo because John is gay, Huddleston took to Twitter. She snapped a photo and tweeted, "This was taken at my local grocery store. I was shocked and horrified. Can you help bring attention to this?"

She addressed tweets to Anderson Cooper, Kathy Griffin, Ellen DeGeneres, The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the ACLU and others. And the Internet did the rest.

The photo appeared on several popular blogs, captioned with outraged language. The Harps store -- and company headquarters -- were flooded with calls.

Within hours the shields had come down.

"Our true intention is not to offend anyone in our stores and this incident happened at just one of our 65 locations, which when brought to our attention we reversed," said Kim Eskew in the statement.

The manager at the Harps store in Mountain Home was on vacation, and the employee who answered the phone refused to talk to ABC News about the incident.

Store Covers Picture of Elton John's Baby, Feels Internet's Wrath

Both Elton John's publicist, Fran Curtis, and manager declined to comment.

Last week, John, who is British, publicly complained about being "fed up" at being treated like a "second-class citizen" in the U.S. because of his sexuality.

He took his stand at a performance at a private Beverly Hills fundraiser for the ongoing legal challenge to California's gay marriage ban.

"As I get older, I get more angry about it," he said.

In the Us Weekly cover story, John expressed a softer sentiment -- his feelings on fatherhood.

"I've never felt anything like it in my life," John, 63,told the magazine holding their Tiny Dancer for the first time. "You're so awestruck. What can you say? You take it in. The feeling, the joy, the warmth of his body, his breathing."