Missouri residents have staged several counter blocks in response to Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church members that protest military funerals with their “God Hates Fags” mission statement.
The Missouri legislature tried to enact a law that makes protesting military funerals illegal. But the Supreme Court says the Westboro Baptist Church is exercising its right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment.
So, Missourians have staged counter protests to drown out church members who say military casualties are God’s payback for the United States’ acceptance of homosexuality.
L.T. Dobkins of Steelville is a biker with the Patriot Guard, which tries to protect veterans’ families from protesters.
“We do everything in a peaceful means,” Dobkins says. “We stand and cover them up with American flags. If there’s 20 fo them and we’ve got 300 bikers out there … we can shield the family from them. They don’t have to see them and they never hear them.”
Court documents say the Topeka, Kansas-based church members have protested at more than 200 military funerals throughout the U-S.
Recently, the church protested the funeral for Elizabeth Edwards, former wife of vice-presidential candidate John Edwards.
Dobkins says he knows well what it’s like to be disrespected.
“I’m from the Viet Nam era, I remember what happend,” he says. “I wasn’t proud to be a veteran for a long time, I am now.”
“…To be able to protect family from that kind fo nonsense it helps,” he says. “It helps me too.”
His wife, Rita, says even when there is no family, the Patriot Guard is there.
“A lot of the veterans, they don’t have a family,” she says. “So, we’re the Patriot Guard, we’re their family, and we’re there for them.”