Anti-gay roadshow en route to capital targets Hogtown parade
By DONNA CASEY -- Ottawa Sun
In a dress rehearsal for tomorrow's flag-burning protest on the Supreme Court steps, Pastor Fred Phelps will take his anti-gay gospel to Toronto's Gay Pride parade today.
The 69-year-old bible-thumper from Topeka, Kan. is expected to unleash his self-professed hatred of homosexuals when he pickets and harangues gays and lesbians along the parade route this afternoon.
"That's what we do -- we preach to sinners and there's a whole puddle of them at a parade like that," said Shirley Phelps-Roper, Phelps' daughter and an attorney with her father's Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka.
She added that gays "have been taken captive by the Devil to do his business" and Phelps' followers attack gays "out of the kindness of our hearts for our fellow man."
TOUR TO CONTINUE
Phelps plans to continue on to Ottawa tomorrow, where he will picket the Supreme Court for its recent decision giving equal rights to gay and lesbian couples.
Rev. Brent Hawkes, pastor of Toronto's gay- and lesbian- friendly Metropolitan Community Church, is fully prepared for Phelps and about a dozen of his disciples to crash his church's outdoor service.
"He's so despicable and unpredictable, we're not sure what he's going to do," Hawkes said.
Hawkes said Phelps, who has picketed other Metropolitan Community Churches in San Francisco and Minneapolis with a "God Hates Fags" message, has the power to "bring out the right-wing crazies."
"We've had too many churches in the past burned to the ground to want to encourage any kind of fanaticism," Hawkes said.
John Fisher, executive director of Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere (EGALE), brushed off the impact the preacher would have on today's festivities, expected to attract more than a million people.
FLAG TO BE TORCHED
"The whole place is a carnival," Fisher said. "I can't see that one man trying to make a fuss and tell everyone we're sinners is going to be noticed particularly."
EGALE is organizing a vigil to counter Phelps' Supreme Court demonstration, where he vows to torch the Canadian flag to show Canada "is now burning with fag lust" and "will be turned into Hell, where the fire is never quenched."
Oddly, one prominent white-supremacist says Phelps' antics may too "radical" for Canadians.
"There's potentially a lot of middle-class or average Canadians who do agree but Canadians are not likely to line up behind someone whose message is as radical as his," said Wolfgang Droege, co-founder of the Heritage Front.
Regional Coun. Alex Munter said Phelps should not be taken lightly.
"I know what happens when we don't stand up in the face of hatred," he said.
Monday, June 28, 1999
Crusader outed from his hotel
By CHRISTA DELANEY, Ottawa Sun
Anti-gay crusader Pastor Fred Phelps and his group of gay-hating crusaders are hiding behind aliases after a local hotel cancelled their reservation.
The group is expected to descend on the Supreme Court this morning to protest the recent decision granting equal rights to gay and lesbian couples.
The hotel cancellation has irked Shirley Phelps-Roper, a lawyer who works alongside her father at the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. "Canadians are hypocrites -- saying that you won't discriminate against gays and then discriminating against us because of our religion."
The dozen protesters may have to cancel some plans of their own as rain may force them to abandon plans to torch the Canadian flag.
[Note: It's the first time in weeks that Ottawa has had significant rainfall. Apparently God really wants him to succeed. - Joe]
"They'll be there but they'll be leaving their options of what to do open," said Phelps-Roper yesterday afternoon from Topeka.
Regional police are on alert in case the protest -- scheduled from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. -- turns ugly.
In response to the Phelps' protest, a noon-time vigil has been organized by Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere (EGALE) and has received support from local politicians, church groups and organizations.
The Ottawa demonstration is Phelps' second stop in Canada. He also planned to demonstrate at yesterday's Gay Pride parade in Toronto.
EGALE executive director John Fisher, who participated in the Gay Pride parade, said he saw no sign of Phelps. "If he was there, he had no impact on the celebration."