Opposition to Reverend Fred Phelps' Proposed Anti-Gay Matthew Shepard Monument in Casper, Wyoming

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On October 3, 2003 Anti-Gay Preacher Fred Phelps' announced intentions to erect a "monument" to Matthew Shepard, a college student brutally murdered five years ago. The following is an article published October 3, 2003 by 365Gay.com's News Center.

(Casper, Wyoming) Anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps has announced intentions to erect a monument to Matthew Shepard the gay college student brutally murdered five years ago near Laramie.

But, the monument will be no memorial. Phelps says the monument would be 5 to 6 feet tall and made of marble or granite. It would bear a bronze plaque bearing the image of Shepard and have an inscription reading "MATTHEW SHEPARD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God's Warning: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22."

The monument would be erected in downtown Casper, Shepard's home town. Phelps has sent details of the monument to the city of Casper city council and there may be nothing the city can do to prevent it. Phelps said he intends to put up the monument in City Park, already the location of a controversial statue of the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments statue was donated to the city by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles in 1965. After a court battle over a similar monument in the city of Ogden, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that any city that displays a Ten Commandments monument on public property must also allow monuments espousing the views of other religions or political groups on that same property.

Phelps told Casper council in his letter that if it attempts to prevent him from erecting the homophobic monument he's prepared to go to court.

"That is exactly what I said would happen," said Councilwoman Barb Watters. She said she warned the city when it accepted the Ten Commandments statue that the city risked other monuments advocating anti-Semitism and hatred of other minorities.

"I think the hate language will find a very cold reception in this community," councilor Paul Bertoglio said. "I think this community's backbone is going to come up and say 'We are not going to accept it.'"

The city council is looking at several options, one is fighting Phelps in court, another is moving the Ten Commandments out of the park, and yet another proposal would be to sell the land the park is on. Phelps says he doesn't care what the city decides. If he is unable to put the statue in City Park he said he will find another location in the city.

During Shepard's funeral members of Phelps' Westoboro Baptist Church demonstrated in front of the chapel.

Article 365Gay.com, 2003

Please voice your opposition to this appauling proposition by signing this Nation-wide Petition, launched October 9, 2003 on behalf of a concerned member of the Gay community. Help put an end to Fred Phelps' distasteful actions before they have a chance to spread the ideas of hatred and discrimination that he so boldly presents to the world.