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|Anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church protests Final Four under a flurry of boos|
|Written by Ryan Watkins|
|Monday, 08 April 2013 10:59|
As thousands of Michigan, Louisville, Witchita State and Syracuse college basketball fans made their way into the Georgia Dome on Saturday, they were confronted by the unmistakable anti-gay picket signs frequently paraded outside of LGBT events and U.S. military funerals by Westboro Baptist Church.
Around eight members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested in Atlanta over the weekend outside of the Georgia Dome during the NCAA Basketball Final Four tournament. Shirley Phelps-Roper is the matriarch of Westboro Baptist Church and daughter of church founder Fred Phelps.
“You need to have a case study. His name is Magic Johnson,” Phelps-Roper said. “Just use him as the beginning point. Remember, he did some Final Fours. The end of that matter is a fag son, he's got AIDS, and they're all headed to hell.”
Magic Johnson, a former professional basketball player and current TV analyst, spoke out as HIV-positive in the early 1990s. Johnson's son EJ recently came out publicly as a gay man and has his father's support.
“This country uses this vehicle called basketball as an idol that they serve way more than they serve God and they substitute as God,” she continued. “They don't serve God, they serve themselves and they serve their idols. This nation is going down.”
Basketball is not particularly gay. So, why the protest?
“Do you understand this nation is poised to have same-sex marriage across the land? They really already do but they're about to make it the law of the land. We were standing just 10 days ago in D.C. outside the Supreme Court. Losing? No my dear, you don't have eyes to see apparently that the end of this matter is the destruction of this country and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ,” she continued. “I say get her done.”
While there was no organized counter-protest, most, if not all, of the afternoon revelers were decidedly anti-Westboro. Some walking by the small protest zone booed, while others laughed. Others still were more direct and challenged the protesters on their beliefs and reasons for protesting.
Cameron Kano, a 15-year old girl attending the festivities with her mother and a friend, was vocally upset with the protest. When she saw the picket signs, Kano walked to the partition that separated the protesters from the crowd and stuck her two middle fingers in the air.
“It pisses me off,” Kano later told GA Voice. “People like this cannot let two people that love each other just be together. I don't get how this affects them in any way. I don't know, it just really bothers me.”
Others, like Ben Beckham, engaged in conversation with the protesters in an attempt to understand their logic.
“I'm here for the basketball games,” Beckham, who was attending an afternoon game with his girlfriend, told GA Voice. “That's the reason why this country can't come together. They call it the melting pot that mixes together. It's more of a segregated stain-glass window, but less so, it's a broken stain-glass window. This is what's wrong with this country, people are still so segregated against other people and they can't accept that they're from the same country.”
Ashley and Carly, a young lesbian couple, stood in front of the barricades and briefly kissed to the cheers of some passersby.
“I just want them to feel bad,” one of the girls said when asked why she and her girlfriend kissed in front of the protest zone. “I'm sure they go home and watch lesbian porn,” the other added.
Photos: (Top) Cameron Kano shows members of Westboro Baptist Church her middle fingers. (middle) A young lesbian couple kisses outside of the Westboro Baptist Church protest zone to the cheers of some passersby. (bottom) The Saturday protest featured around eight members of Westboro Baptist Church. (by Ryan Watkins)
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