Equality Groups React To Phelps Death

People For The American Way

Fred Phelps made a name for himself by protesting the funerals of soldiers and hate crime victims. In particular, he spent decades causing immeasurable pain to LGBT people and their families. My thoughts are with all those people today. Very much in spite of himself, Fred Phelps was an important figure in the movement for LGBT equality. Other right-wing leaders have chosen their words more carefully, and the WBC even protested some far-right activists for being insufficiently hateful, but plenty of Religious Right leaders have always agreed on Phelps’s core message: that God reacts to gay people with divine punishment in this world and damnation in the next. Fred Phelps just said what so many anti-gay activists have always believed. When Americans were faced with the choice of accepting their LGBT neighbors or endorsing Phelps’s unfiltered hate, they chose the former. He showed anti-gay bigotry for what it really is: profoundly un-American. Phelps lived to see a nation that more and more decisively rejected his vile message. That’s his legacy.

Truth Wins Out

“Fred was a net positive for the LGBT community,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen, who once referred to Phelps as a “walking hate crime.” “The organized Religious Right despised him. They would spend big money to concoct elaborate schemes that tried to make raw hate appear to be love. Then Fred would come along and foil their careful plans with a ‘God Hates Fags sign.'” Fred Phelps’ slogan continues to be the primary message of groups like the American Family Association, Family Research Council and lesser entities like Americans For Truth and Mission America, distilled into its simplest form. Indeed, Phelps’ fundamental honesty exposed the true face of anti-gay hatred in America. “Fred was a loathsome creature,” said TWO’s Besen. “But I’ll say one nice thing about him: He’s the only honest person on the Religious Right I’ve ever met. He says what many of them truly believe but are too careful to say publicly.”

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force

Fred Phelps will not be missed by the LGBT community, people with HIV/AIDS and the millions of decent people across the world who found what he and his followers do deeply hurtful and offensive. Through his actions, he brought needless pain and suffering to thousands of families, including to military families, at their time of greatest pain and grieving. While it is hard to find anything good to say about his views or actions, we do give our condolences to his family members at what must be a painful time for them.

More reactions will be added to this post as they come in.