Church Members Threaten To Sue Over Picket Ordinance
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Members of the Rev. Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., said they will sue the city of St. Joseph if it tries to enforce a ban against protests at military funerals, KMBC’s Micheal Mahoney reported Tuesday.
Church members have been protesting at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. They say the deaths are God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality.
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In December, St. Joseph approved an ordinance banning protests at funeral sites within one hour of services.
Tuesday, church members marched on St. Joseph’s City Hall to protest the picketing ban.
“If another soldier dies and they try to enforce an unconstitutional ordinance against us, we will see them in federal court, and that’s all there is to it,” protester Shirley Phelps-Roper said.
Mahoney reported that some of the same people who showed up Tuesday were also in St. Joseph for the August 2005 funeral of 21-year-old Spc. Edward Myers, who was killed in Iraq.
“The families actually want to deal with their loved ones death and grieve in peace, and we couldn’t even do that because we had to deal with these mean and hateful people,” said Jean Myers, Edward’s widow.
Mahoney reported State Sen. Charlie Shields, of St. Joseph, wants to pass a bill banning pickets at all military funerals in Missouri.
“Hopefully we can take this law national, because no family should ever have to go through this,” Myers said.
Eight years ago, a Kansas judge struck down a similar law in Topeka, Mahoney reported.