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:
- A federal judge decided to stay a court decision that would have required Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The earlier decision is currently under appeal.
- Netflix is producing a new kinda-gay-themed comedy in which Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda play women whose husbands declare their love for each other and decide to get hitched. Enthusiasm for Tomlin and Fonda aside -- it's the "9 to 5" reunion you never knew you wanted! -- we'll be curious to see how the show deals with its male characters.
- Speaking of gay-ish TV, MTV's new "Faking It" tells the story of two teenage girls who are mistakenly thought to be lesbians and then learn to love the mistake as it brings them popularity. The trailer's online if you're interested -- I think this sounds worse than it is.
- Figure skater Johnny Weir and his husband have apparently separated, per Weir's Twitter. The news comes weeks after Weir appeared in court on domestic violence charges for allegedly biting his husband.
- As mainstream print media struggles with declining ad revenue and circulation (reportedly), the LGBT press is apparently growing: LGBT print media hit a record high in ad sales in 2013.
- Remember all the hub-bub over how locker room culture would be forever changed if gay dudes came out and started to play in the NFL, because their teammates wouldn't feel safe from prying eyes? Interviews with British athletes in a study suggest straight athletes have already been looking around.
That's what got our attention this week. Any other LGBT-related news that you've been talking about?