The world is a better place with the death of the Reverend Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas.
Phelps died at age 84, and left behind a legacy of total hatred, as he became controversial for his small group of followers, mostly family, picketing at funerals of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans, approved by the Supreme Court in 2011 with some restrictions, as freedom of speech.
Phelps and his followers were not protesting the wars America engaged in, but rather the fact that gays and lesbians were permitted to exist, as he and his flock condemned homosexuality, and said gays and lesbians were doomed to hell.
Phelps failed to attract outside supporters, and even some of his own family repudiated him over the years, but he never gave up his fanatical hatred and poisonous rhetoric.
There is the temptation to say “goodbye and good riddance,'” but more than wishing that ill thought on anyone who has died, is the hope that we will never again see the likes of anyone who calls himself “religious”, abuse that term by wishing harm and promoting hate toward anyone, whether for their race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
The ultimate victory over Fred Phelps and his ilk is the fact that 18 states and Washington, DC back gay marriage rights, that eight other states have had federal judges move in that direction—Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma Tennessee, Kentucky, and Utah, and that five other states—Missouri, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, as of this writing, recognize civil unions, a step toward eventual acceptance of gay marriage. So soon, it is likely, after appeal, that 26 states will be allowing gay marriage, and five others are also moving in that direction.
And ultimately, it seems highly likely that cases on gay marriage in the federal courts will lead to a Supreme Court decision, with a likely minimum 5-4 vote, including Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in the crucial gay rights case, Lawrence V. Texas, in 2003, and then no state will be able to deny anyone the right to marry a person of either gender, another great advancement in human rights!