Outrage, yes, but why only now?

There's an article in today's New York Times on the Rev. Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas, and he and his church's protests against U.S. military funerals, as well as the numerous bills heading through state legislators in response. As the article details, he and his family believe the U.S. is being punished for not resisting homosexuality strongly enough, and his "God Hates the U.S.A." signs have attracted enough outrage at veterans' funerals that nine states have recently approved laws restricting demonstrations at funerals. A quick glance at the Wikipedia biography shows that this is obviously a very troubled man, with a very troubled history, more deserving of pity than of fear. The only thing to fear in his regard is giving any more publicity to him and his family.

But with all due respect to the pain of the families of veterans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have to raise a small point of justice: Fred Phelps has been picketing at the funerals of gay men, especially gay men who have died of AIDS, and of gay men like Matthew Shepard gay-bashed to a pulp, for about fifteen years. Fifteen years. Fifteen years of "God Hates Fags", "Your Son is in Hell", and "Thank God for AIDS" signs that the families of gay men have had to walk by as they mourned their dead partners, lovers, brothers, sons, and friends. And legislators have only decided now that this is "repugnant, outrageous, despicable," in the words of Rep. Steve Buyer of Indiana?

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