Counter-Protestors Outnumber Protesters from Anti-Gay Group
Associated Press, March 25, 2002
By Phillip Rawls
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP)—Members of an anti-gay church
demonstrated at Alabama’s justice building Monday to show their support for
Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has called homosexuality "an inherent
The demonstrators were outnumbered 5-to-1 by opponents.
Six members of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan.—all relatives of
the church’s outspoken minister, Fred Phelps—traveled to Montgomery to
stage two days of demonstrations, including standing in front of the courts
building during Monday morning’s rush hour.
Topeka attorney Fred Phelps Jr., the minister’s son, said God caused the
terrorist attacks Sept. 11 to punish America for embracing homosexuality.
"If you’ve seen these filthy beasts walking in gay pride parades in
New York, you’d say September 11th is not enough," Phelps said.
Phelps and his relatives, including three children, carried signs saying
"God Hates Fags" and "God Hates America."
Across the street, 30 counter-demonstrators stood quietly, carrying signs
that said "No Moore Hate" and "Moore and Phelps, Brothers in
Ken Baker of Montgomery said he was pleased by the turnout for his side and
that no one from Alabama joined the Kansas group.
"We’re the citizens of Alabama. Those are outside
troublemakers," Baker said.
On Feb. 15, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a heterosexual
father should have custody of three children rather than their homosexual
mother. The court’s opinion did not cite homosexuality as a factor, but
Moore issued a separate, 35-page concurring opinion that quoted common law and
scripture about homosexuality, which Moore called "abhorrent, immoral,
Moore’s spokesman issued a statement Friday saying the chief justice had
no connection with the Kansas group and did not support their views and
On Saturday, Moore said his opinion had been distorted. He said he was
writing about the act of homosexuality, and the person can be separated from
"He’s a weak sister. His opinion was a good start, but he needs to
quit apologizing," Phelps said Monday.
Montgomery attorney Ken Sabel said he attended the counter-demonstration
because he believes Moore’s and Phelps’ views are in synch.
"I think it is important to link Moore and Phelps because this is the
kind of thing Moore’s views bring," he said, motioning across the
The Kansas group was last in Alabama in 1999 to demonstrate at a memorial
service for Billy Jack Gaither, a gay Sylacauga man who was beaten to death
and burned atop a pile of tires.
After spending nearly an hour at the State Judicial Building, the Kansas
group wrapped up its two days in Montgomery by protesting at the Southern
Poverty Law Center, an organization that has defended homosexuals and that has
labeled the Westboro Baptist Church as a "hate group."
Richard Cohen, general counsel for the law center, said there are striking
similarities between Moore and Phelps: Both use the Bible to justify their
views, both consider homosexuals a threat to children, and both have penned
rewritten versions of "America the Beautiful" to portray America as
a godless land.
Mayor Bobby Bright joined several Montgomery police in keeping an eye on
Bright said he wanted to protect the Kansas group’s right to speak out,
"even though I don’t believe in what they believe in."
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