Enter your email address to receive our daily LGBT news roundup

You're free to unsubscribe at any time.

Dead soldier’s father must pay £11,000 to anti-gay church

Post your comment

Comments on this article are now closed.

Reader comments

  1. Yet more prove that justice doesn’t exsist. What a disgrace!

  2. oops – proof even… lol

  3. It’s sad that the rights of this ‘church’ to free speech trump this guy’s right to bury his son in a peaceful and respectful way. But that’s the US for you.

  4. BrazilBoysBlog 31 Mar 2010, 12:14pm

    I really hope that this man raises enough to take it to the Supreme Court. This ´church´ is a disgrace and the $5 million damages would go a long way towards making it bankrupt. Just shows the difference between the US and the UK. In the UK we have just had the case of the religious nutter fined 1000 pounds for breaching the peace. A shame that the peace and sanctity of this boys funeral wasn´t respected by these loonies.

    I support free speech. I do NOT support HATE speech. I also really do think there is a time and a place… and a funeral, with a mourning family is NOT the right place!

    Hopefully, gays across America will be outraged by this ruling and will join with service people and their families to (easily) raise enough money to take this to the Supreme Court.

  5. It is not proof that justice does not exist. What if anything it may demonstrate is that the lawyers involved took a decision to test the Court’s interpretation of scope of the 1st Amendment as it pertained to this particular set of circumstances, and failed to win the argument.

    The Westbro Church has in Shirley “pooply pants” Phelps-Roper a lawyer who is driven not just by religious mania but by the real prospect of having to find a five million dollar award against them. That alone would focus the mind wonderfully.

    This vile organisation is a by product of the way the Constitution of the United States of America works. In the same way that the Christian fundamental lobby constantly attempts to have it that the USA was founded to be a Christian country, it wasn’t! It is a secular state admitting no state religion of any kind.

    All right thinking people know that the Westbro people are at religious maniacs, devoid of common decency, completely lacking in any kind of compassion for the suffering of the bereaved and should be shunned as the phariah organisation it undoubtedly is.

    As for Justice? We will have to wait and see what happens in the Supreme Court as that is the only forum where the issues raised in this case can be fully tried and judgment handed down.

  6. Vincent Poffley 31 Mar 2010, 12:30pm

    This is not a free speech issue. It is not about the right of the bigots to be bigots, or indeed to speak their bigotry. What this is about is the deliberate attempt to cause emotional distress on other people – basically it’s about torture. The thing about free speech is that it entails one take responsibility for what one says, and that includes the context it’s said in. Saying “start up the gas chambers” does not entitle you to a free-speech get-out clause for the deaths of all the people you’ve murdered, and likewise shouting “fire” in a crowded building does not entitle you to a free-speech get-out from liability for the injuries caused in the resulting stampede.

    But, of course, this is america, where undeserved respect for religion tends to trump all rational considerations – even in the judicial system. And the fact the monstrous Fred Phelps (a serial and serious child-abuser) has turned his abusive family brood-cult into a church for tax purposes doesn’t seem to make the slightest bit of difference.

  7. Pumpkin Pie 31 Mar 2010, 12:43pm

    For everyone who doesn’t understand the difference between free speech and hate speech (even when *shock/horror!* it isn’t an incitement to violence), this is what that gets you.

  8. proof that america cares more about the rights of spiteful evangelical christians who want to speak hate, than the rights of gay people who want to love. pathetic. the american justice system should be ashamed of itself.

  9. Everyone on here, as usual jumps on the emotional content of a piece instead of the logical one. Free speech means everybody and the same applies to homophobic morons like the Westboro Baptist Church. Either everybody can talk, or nobody, and I know which option I prefer.

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/03/30/homophobic-preacher-should-not-have-been-prosecuted/

    A similar situation above in the UK. The US first amendment has a very clear objective and is what the country was built on. I feel very sorry for the Father of this young man, but his lawyers should have warned him that he was about to take on the first rule of the United States of America, and he didn’t stand a snowball’s chance.

    I only hope that there are people out there willing to set up a fund to help pay off the fees, and maybe find other ways of shutting up these bigots.

  10. THIS IS DISGUSTING.
    How dare they rule in favour of this vile “Church.”
    I’m utterly appalled.

  11. Wow!
    An issue on freedom of speech and Peter Tatchell doesnt have a response!
    He must not have read this yet

  12. Sad, truly sad. That poor man, to lose your son in those circumstances and then suffer that sort of disgusting behaviour – do these people have no sense of shame or decency?

    However, it sort of shows that you cannot sue for everything in life, and I agree with Rob that he was badly advised by his lawyers. The American Boston Legal, LA Law style of suing all the time often doesn’t work out.

    Margaret Thatcher used to talk about the “oxygen of publicity” when talking about the IRA, it would have been better for this man to ignore this horrible, twisted mob.

    I wonder if there is a way of donating a small amount to this father, any ideas Pink News?

  13. The first amendment was to prevent government suppression of the truth. However the government does that all the time in the name of security. [Benjamin Franklin often said that “anyone who limits liberty in the name of security deserves neither”. The issues have not changed, only the technology and that is not a reason to abandon the ideals of the founding fathers.] These people do not deserve protection under the first amendment, the right to lie, harass, and otherwise cause pain to others is not a first amendment right. This decision is not about the law. What this is about the lunatic fringe of religion, not even founded in their own origins much less the US constitution, controlling more and more of the world. People should be afraid, very afraid. I wonder if gay people started picketing every church with slogans about the verifiable truths of Christian history and the real life of Jesus of Nazareth (something no Christian ever wants to hear about) if the same first amendment arguments would hold up in court. Perhaps we should try and find out, LOL.

  14. Peter Tatchell is too busy sussing out which of the gay troops would be willing enough……

  15. How terrible. This wouldn’t happen in a right thinking society – how can the USA court justify such a hate crime? They were picketing his funeral FFS, he’s DEAD and a brave ex-soldier – and they have no respect.

    Anybody that supports this kind of ‘freedom of speech’ needs to check their value system, or lack of.

  16. Another example of the difference between the Law and Justice. It’s high time that there was less emphasis of ‘rights’ and a a little more emphasis on how ‘rights’ are expressed and exercised. The Phelps clan can beieve what they like, but they should not have the ‘right’ to express those beliefs in a way that denies a grieving family the peace to bury their son.

  17. This is not a “freedom of Speech” issue… this is a “Don’t gatecrash funerals you have nothing to do with and bully and intimidate those paying their last respects” issue.
    As such I find this verdict obscene.
    The Phelps family give “Freedom of Speech” issues a bad name.

  18. What’s wrong with this picture? Hate-mongers antagonise a grieving family and get paid $11k for it.

  19. Jean-Paul Bentham 31 Mar 2010, 10:32pm

    “Bill O’Reilly of Fox News Channel offered Tuesday to pay more than $16,000 court-ordered appeal costs assigned to the father of a slain marine whose funeral was picketed by the antigay Westboro Baptist Church.”

    – The Advocate

  20. I am very thankful not to be American!

  21. Jean-Paul Bentham 31 Mar 2010, 11:48pm

    Speaking of hate-mongers, horrendous anti-gay hate crimes are occurring in Iraq as we speak.

    Please sign this urgent petition:

    http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/2010/03/changeorg-launch-petition-for-iraqi.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IraqiLgbt+%28IRAQI+LGBT%29

    Ali Hili Must Travel!

  22. jamestoronto 1 Apr 2010, 12:39am

    My question is “If this group of religious nut cases do not represent what true Christianity (or Judaism or Islam, etc ) is all about, then where are those who say they are real loving Christians?” They should be out there in droves countering these flakes.

    Every time I see a picture/video of them, there are barely six to twelve of the fanatics. Surely, in such a “Christian” country such as the USA one would think that they can come up with about 50 or so people of all faiths to outnumber them.

    Or is it that most American Christians agree with these jerks? These people have been barred from Canada for violating the propagation of hate through speech section of our Criminal Code.

    These vile people are the most DISGUSTING SCABS on the flesh of the human race.

  23. America is not I repeat not a Christian Country.
    The Treaty of Tripoli was unanimously approved by the Senate on June 10, 1797. Article 11 read, “As the government of the United States of America is not founded in any sense on the Christian religion—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims]—and as the said states have never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

    Free speech is exactly that or it is nothing. Hate mongering is another matter entirely and comes under an entirely different orbit of laws. To the poster of number 9 please re-read post number 5, the term ‘everyone’ is not exact as used in post 9 is it?

  24. JP: I know your heart is in the right place, but please stop spamming forums with multiple posts. It is bad netiquette.

  25. “Freedom of Speech” should have boundaries. It should not be used for derogatory, hate crimes, to incite violence or anything. There needs to be a balance on what is right and wrong. These religious freaks should never be given the right of “Freedom Of Speech” at any cost against the public. They should be gagged, full stop.

  26. that isn’t free speech its harassment! and i suppose just another example of the world gone mad and common sense gone down the drain. this is just disgusting

  27. These people are actually doing us a favor by voicing their disgusting hate. They are showing the rest of the world how religious homophobia manifests and that extremists like this are out there. I’m sure that no educated person in the entire world supports their twisted view.

  28. Jean-Paul Bentham 1 Apr 2010, 9:27am

    @24:

    Sign it and shut the fcuk up!

  29. #24 So robn now thinks he is in the employ of PINK NEWS as an editor….”netiquette is being an a**hole to your fellow posters,Neil
    just sign the petition and shut up…………..

  30. Jean-Paul Bentham 1 Apr 2010, 12:55pm

    Patrick, we can’t go on meeting like this…!

  31. Now who would have thought Bill O’Reilly and Fox News woulod be praised on this post!

  32. Patrick: How can I put this in terms even you would understand?
    er… ah yes… “F_ck off.”

  33. JP: Do you seriously think putting an anonymous signature on an on-line piece of tat is going to make one jot of difference to what goes on in Iraq? You are just wasting everyone’s time, including your own.

  34. Are these 3 judges mad to impose such a fine on this grieving father? I hope he wins in the Supreme Court and takes the very clthes off the backs of this mad creatures who preach hate!

  35. You can guarantee that any gays or soldiers protesting against the church in Topeka would soon be ushered away by police and arrested and then probably be prosecuted. Again, religion poisons and trumps everything!

  36. This church is beyond disrespectful. Matt was a soldier who risked his life for this country, and this church has the balls to say that he died because “God hates gays”? No sir! I understand people have the freedom of speech, but with freedom comes responsibility, because one day you may be ‘eating’ your words (by the hands of God). God works in many ways and He knows what to do. If people would quit trying to control everything and put the situation in God’s hands it wouldn’t be like this.

    I’m glad I met God and have God and Jesus in my heart before I met people like the people of this church, because it’s sad to say but I think I may not have followed God any at all after being in something like this church is in. Any one can change and everyone believes different (obviously) but no one (NO ONE) can judge another because no one knows what the other has been through, but judge and you shall be judged (hints: Westboro Baptist Church).

  37. I am so glad to live in the UK (although not too much better)

    A young boy to fight to the death for his country only to have it spit on his grave – is an absolute disgrace, a travesty of unbelievable proportion.

These comments are un-moderated and do not necessarily represent the views of PinkNews. If you believe that a comment is inappropriate or libellous, please contact us.

Top commenters this week

Latest stories

See all