Missouri’s attempt to block members of Westboro Baptist Church, a gay-hating fundamentalist church, from protesting at military funerals in on hold.
Members of the Kansas-based church picket funerals of veterans killed during the war, where they often hold up signs claiming that the soldier’s death is God’s punishment for homosexuality. Their activities are not just confined to military funerals, and the members do not seem to care whether the soldier who died is gay or straight. They simply use the funeral as an opportunity to spout their anti-gay rhetoric.
In response to their actions, a number of states such as Kansas, Kentucky, Colorado, Michigan, and Iowa attempted to enact laws to create protest-free zones around funerals. The laws were challenged on the basis of free speech. In Missouri’s case, Shirley Phelps-Roper had filed suit against the law and a federal appeals court had ruled that the law could not be enforced until her lawsuit was resolved. A federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled that Missouri cannot enforce the law until that lawsuit is resolved. Missouri appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, but the court efused to hear the appeal. The law will remain on hold, then, until Phelps-Roper’s lawsuit is resolved. Phelps-Roper is represented by the ACLU.
The issue is making the news again after an announcement that the group plans to picket Michael Jackson’s memorial service in California this week.
Photo credit: Carroll County Times / Dylan Slagle