Friday, February 6, 2009

Friends of Dorothy in Kansas

Hundreds counter Phelps' anti-gay picketers at Shawnee Mission East

When Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church picket a soldier’s funeral, a cadre of Patriot Guard riders typically shows up to protest the picketers.

But when the Westboro group showed up this afternoon at Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, hundreds of students and adults gathered on three corners to show their disdain for the church’s anti-gay message.

The Phelps group was confined to the fourth corner at 75th Street and Mission Road.

Westboro church members believe that God is punishing America for tolerating homosexuality. They have drawn harsh criticism across the nation for picketing at funerals of servicemen and servicewomen.

Their message didn’t sit well with many students at the high school where, according to student Jake Davidson, there is a Gay and Straight Alliance at the school and students elected a homecoming king in 2007 who was openly gay.

“Everyone is equal whether you’re gay or straight,” said Davidson, a 16-year-old junior from Leawood and an organizer of the student protest.

“It’s really cool that everyone wants to be involved and take a stand against this. It doesn’t surprise me that everyone wants to help out.”

He said word of the counterprotest ran through the school like wildfire.

Take that, haters!

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