Looking Out: Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps dead at 84

Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, seen here demonstrating across the street from the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, died Thursday at 84.

The founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, the Kansas institution that stages anti-LGB protests across the country, died Thursday, according to multiple reports.

Fred Phelps, 84, started the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka in 1955. Since its founding, the Church has become known throughout the world for demonstrations and pickets at events including military funerals and political gatherings. Westboro members would stand outside holding posters and signs with spiteful slogans condemning LGBT people, among others. 

One oft-repeated refrain, likely the one which became most associated with the church and is used at its web address, was "God Hates Fags."

Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church staged demonstrations in Maryland several times in the last decade. In 2013, church members held demonstrations in Annapolis and Towson against Maryland's legalization of same-sex marriage. They were met with counter-protesters preaching equality.

In 2006, Westboro members picketed at the Westminster funeral of U.S. Marine Matthew Snyder, holding signs reading "Fag troops" and "Thank God for dead soldiers." Snyder's father sued, and a Baltimore jury awarded him $11 million in damages. Westboro picketed in Baltimore during the trial.

The church's subsequent appeal lead to a Supreme Court ruling that Westboro's speech was protected under the First Amendment.

Moving on to other news:


That's what got our attention this week. Any other LGBT-related news that you've been talking about?