Do Anti-Gay Groups Have Right To Protest Military Funerals?


This is such an ugly story: The Supreme Court upheld agreed to review a reversed ruling that allowed members of Westboro Baptist Church to stage a loud and distracting protest outside of a cemetery where a military officer was being buried by his family. Originally the family had won a $10 million court settlement after their son’s funeral – a serviceman who died in Iraq – was disrupted by church members (lead by Pastor Fred Phelps) – who claimed homosexuals are the reason God is punishing American soldiers overseas. The issue was debated on Hardball tonight, and it’s a tricky one: First Amendment or not, what about the right to hold a private grieving ceremony?

It’s cases like this that make it really hard to want to protect the right to freedom of speech when a man had to bury his son next to such hateful imagery. And obviously there is no clear answer, or else the government would have imposed bans on assembly of Ku Klux Klan meetings long ago. But we agree with Melinda Henneberger when she says that “This is so outside the bounds of human decency…(it’s) only going to create even more sympathy for Gay Rights groups by showing people who oppose that to look like haters.” Add to that veterans who may have their personal feelings about gay people but strong opinions about those who disrupt the funerals of those who died in service for our country, and Westboro may have just turned some of the last gay-bashers against their own cause.

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