"You are going to take your kids into that church that promotes sodomy," yelled one of Pastor Fred Phelps' supporters to a family entering the First United Methodist Church on Sunday. Best known for holding a "God hates fags" rally at Matthew Shepard's funeral, Phelps is a disbarred lawyer and Baptist minister from Kansas who has tried to spread anti-gay rhetoric across the country. Over the past weekend, he targeted Multnomah County, which, at the time, was the only municipality left in the U.S. issuing same-sex marriage licenses. According to their press release, the group was here to picket "the sodomite whorehouse masquerading as Multnomah County." They planned to target seven stops--mostly liberal churches--in three hours. But his much-anticipated visit fell flat when a paltry number of supporters showed up.
Holding signs announcing "Fags doom nations" and "Fags eat poop," nine Phelps supporters gathered on 6th Avenue Sunday morning. (Phelps allegedly was elsewhere in the county spreading his message.) Across the street, gay rights activists jeered back at the Phelps supporters. Unisex, a pro-queer club from Lewis and Clark College, organized a pledge that for every minute Phelps' crew spent on the corner they would raise money for a queer cause. It was unclear whether this or the rain led Phelps' supporters to pack up early, put their signs away, and get in their two rented minivans.
The protesters' next stop was outside St. Mary's Cathedral, where a congregational member was put in handcuffs and placed in the back of a squad car after allegedly shoving Phelps' grandson Benjamin. And while Benjamin Phelps did not press charges, he was blatant in his responses to questions posed by the Mercury. "God doesn't love everybody," he said. Regarding the Mercury's next question about Phelps' knowledge of brainwashing, he responded, "You don't seem to be very objective. Fags eat feces."