Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Anti-gay Church vs. Grieving Father

Just imagine, the worst day of your life; burying your child who died a hero in Iraq. Now add in Westboro Baptist Church protesting your son's funeral with signs such as "God Hates America," Priests Rape Boys,"  "You're Going to Hell," and "God Hates You." Put it this way, if I was this child's parent I would have done a lot more than sue for defamation and invasion of privacy! However this is the road that Albert Snyder took and on his first try, the jury agreed to his claim and awarded him millions. Unfortunatley that decision was overturned so it's now up to the Supreme Court to decide.

Fred Phelps leads the church in these anti-gay protests. Keep in mind here that Matthew Snyder was not gay - not that it should matter anyway but just a sidenote. He says,"That's what I preach. They're either fags or fucking enablers. Take your choice, each one is going to hell." Another church member said, "We're here to tell them that they sent their son to hell." The church then posted a blog after that protest. In it, the Phelps family said Albert Snyder and his wife raised Matthew "for the devil" and that "God killed Matthew so His servants would have an opportunity to preach His words" at other venues across Maryland.

Before they began protesting the funerals of soldiers, church members brought their colorful "God hates fags" signs to the funerals of gay men who died of AIDS or AIDS-related illnesses. Church members also picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepherd, the victim of an anti-gay beating and one of those for whom the Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was named. Don't worry though, they never want to leave anyone out so they also show up at football games, music concerts, Jewish institutions, the Holocaust Museum in Washington, state legislatures and courthouses. And of course, they plan on picketing outside the Supreme Court. Lovely!

There are many things here that blow my mind but one of them is how they protest soldiers - the very people who fight to protect the freedoms of this country, including the one that they are hiding behind. "They are using the First Amendment as a sword and a shield. My son and thousands like him did not put their lives on the line so that someone could abuse the Constitution like this," Snyder said. "Men and women have died for this right and to have it abused and spit on -- it's not free speech. This fight has never been about free speech to me, it's about harassment."

Snyder's attorney, Sean Summers, says there would be no constitutional quandary if the Phelps picketed the state capitol or in a public park. But he says this is different. "When they protest outside a private funeral, they're not trying to advocate for or against a particular position. All they're doing is harassing a family so they can hijack someone else's private event."

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