CommunityPam's House Blend

Topeka slam dunks Fred and Jael Phelps


If the repeal effort failed, Phelps promised: “If you succeed in passing a gay-rights ordinance, the next morning, we’ll be back on the streets, collecting signatures.”

The people have spoken, Rotting Cryptkeeper, and they didn’t listen to your bile. (AP):

The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. was undaunted after voters upheld the anti-discrimination measure Tuesday and publicly dared the City Council to enact another, broader ordinance.

…In final, unofficial results, 53 percent, or 14,285, opposed the repeal effort, while 47 percent, or 12,795, voted for the repeal. Had it passed, the measure also would have blocked future efforts to reinstate such a law for 10 years. Some said they opposed repealing the measure partly because of Phelps, who has long been a fierce foe of gay rights. His church has picketed the funerals of AIDS victims for more than a decade. And his protest outside the 1998 funeral for Matthew Shepherd, the gay college student beaten to death in Wyoming, led to his portrayal in the play “The Laramie Project.”

Susan Kitchkommie, 49, said Phelps was a factor in her “no,” vote, adding, “I don’t think anybody should be discriminated against.” Even some voters who wanted to repeal the ordinance distanced themselves from Phelps. Retired teacher Jim Paramore said he was “not for Fred Phelps,” explaining that he voted to repeal the ordinance because “there doesn’t need to be special consideration made for homosexuality.”

Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said the vote was encouraging, coming after voters last year amended 13 states’ constitutions to ban gay marriage. “This really was a question in every gay American’s mind whether Fred Phelps represented the voters of Topeka,” he said.

One of the minister’s granddaughters, meanwhile, fell short in her efforts to unseat an openly gay member of the City Council. The granddaughter, Jael Phelps, and council member Tiffany Muller were among four candidates in a nonpartisan primary. Jael Phelps finished last. Muller finished second, behind an attorney, but advanced to the city’s April 5 general election.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding