Wednesday, March 02, 2005


I'm sorry, but I don't care how you feel about homosexuality, picketing funerals of gays who died of AIDS is above and beyond with signs like "GOD HATES FAGS" is above and beyond. God is watching, buddy, and it's not the gay he's shaking his head at.

Kansas Voters Weigh Anti-Bias OrdinanceAssociated Press/AP Online

TOPEKA, Kan. - A minister known for picketing the funerals of AIDS victims with signs reading "God hates fags" led an effort to repeal an anti-discrimination ordinance at the polls Tuesday, and one of his granddaughters tried to unseat an openly gay member of the City Council.
The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. sought to remove from the books a city ordinance that prohibits discrimination against gays in municipal hiring. The repeal measure would also bar Topeka from reinstating such protections for 10 years.
Meanwhile, Phelps' granddaughter, Jael Phelps, was among three candidates challenging openly gay council member Tiffany Muller in a nonpartisan primary.
Muller, 26, pushed for the anti-discrimination ordinance after she was appointed to fill a vacancy on the council last year.
The council approved the ordinance in November. The senior Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church then launched a petition drive against it. Less than two months later, opponents had collected enough signatures to force the city to put the ordinance to a citywide vote.
"That's my job - to preach this stuff and to strive against sin," Phelps said Tuesday, describing homosexuality as a "filthy lifestyle."
Phelps has long been a fierce foe of gay rights. His church has picketed the funerals of AIDS victims for more than a decade. His protest outside the 1998 funeral for Matthew Shepherd, the gay college student beaten to death in Wyoming, led to his portrayal in the play "The Laramie Project."
Phelps' targets have also included churches he deems too soft on homosexuality.
At least two voters said Phelps' support for repealing the ordinance did not affect their decision on the issue.
Barry Elfant, 52, said he voted to leave the ordinance in place, but not because of Phelps. "The whole thing is just stupid - it's 2005," he said. "I'm ashamed to be a resident of a community still struggling with these issues."
But even some voters who opposed the ordinance distanced themselves from Phelps.
Retired teacher Jim Paramore said he was "not for Fred Phelps," explaining that he voted to repeal the ordinance because "there doesn't need to be special consideration made for homosexuality."
Phelps' opponents said they were hoping voters would preserve the anti-discrimination ordinance.
"I would think anybody who votes `yes' today has to hold their noses," said Bill Beachy, president of Concerned Citizens of Topeka, which formed a decade ago to oppose the senior Phelps and his church.


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