The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that
anti-gay pastor Fred Phelps does not have the First Amendment right
to have his monument against Matthew Shepard – and more precisely
against being gay – displayed on government property, reports the
The Westboro Baptist Church pastor
wanted his anti-gay monument to be included in a Casper, Wyoming park
that included several statues of historical significance, including a
Ten Commandments statue donated by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles.
Phelp's monument stated: “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 Casper City Council rejected the
statue in 2003 and again in 2007. Phelps argued it was his First
Amendment right to have his monument included.
Fred Phelps and his daughter, Shirley
Phelps-Roper, were recently banned from entry into Great Britain to
picket a Queen Mary's College production of the Laramie Project, a
play based on the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard. Shepard, a student
at the University of Wyoming, was beaten, shackled to a post and left
to die in a field by two men he had met in a gay bar. He was found
comatose, but died five days later.
The murder sparked outrage in the gay
and lesbian community and calls for federal hate crimes legislation.
The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act might become law this year, ten
years after his death.
The Supreme Court unanimously agreed
Wednesday that governments do not need to accept all the monuments
they are offered. The decision came from a Pleasant Grove, Utah