Metro Weekly

The Phelps Family: From Kansas to Columbus to the Supreme Court

On Wednesday, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will be considering, as SCOTUSblog summarizes the matter, “Does the First Amendment protect protesters at a funeral from liability for intentionally inflicting emotional distress on the family of the deceased?”

Although the case and oral arguments, which Metro Weekly will be covering, relate specifically to the funeral protest laws that several states passed because of the protests of soldiers’ funerals by members of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, the Phelps family continues to lead their infamous protests against homosexuality, abortion and other assorted matters across the country.

Today — following a week in which anti-LGBT bullying and related suicides were prominently featured in the media — the Phelps family was leading one of its protests at Ohio State University in Columbus that took place outside my alma mater, OSU’s Moritz College of Law.

Pete Olsen, a second-year law student at OSU, attended the protest, which — like the National Organization for Marriage’s summer marriage tour — was dwarfed by the counter-protest. He writes at his Wide Rights blog:

This morning, from 10:00am to 10:30am, the Westboro Baptist Church was scheduled to protest at the Ohio State University student union building. From their infamous website, they gave this reason: “These college students spend more time pursuing their drunken sins than their academic studies. Their professors happily teach them the ubiquitous lie that “it’s OK to be gay” and its [sic] just fine to flip off God and mock His servants.”


I happily donned my purple Legalize Gay t-shirt to join an expected throng of counter protesters.

Check out the rest of Olsen’s post for more. He also posted this video from the event that shows a sizable counter-protest by the Buckeyes:

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