Anti-Gay Protester Comes to U

The Lesbian and Gay Student Union will make money off of the anti-gay protests held by Pastor Fred Phelps.

Phelps gained national attention for protesting at the funeral of Matthew Shepard, who was murdered because he was gay, in 1998. Phelps is now conducting protests around the country to mark the third anniversary of Shepard?s death.

Phelps will be at the University of Utah Friday at 11:30 a.m. near the U?s seal at the bottom of Presidents Circle. Members of the Utah AIDS Foundation will attend the event to mark the amount of time he speaks and what words he says.

KRCL Producer Becky Moss started an unofficial pledge drive to help the U?s Lesbian and Gay Student Union (LGSU), the AIDS Foundation and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center when she heard about Phelps? planned arrival in Salt Lake City.

?We are not counter-protesting him. We are thanking him for letting us raise funds for organizations that always need it,? said Moss, who produces the show ?Concerning Gays and Lesbians? on KRCL 90.9 FM.

Moss is working directly with the AIDS Foundation to coordinate the drive, which she said has already brought in ?hundreds of dollars.?

People can pledge money for every minute Phelps protests, or they can pledge money for every time he uses a derogatory term such as ?fag? or ?dike,? she said. Those who donate can select which organization will receive the money.

The AIDS Foundation will also have representatives at his protests to encourage people not to engage Phelps.

?We don?t want to lower ourselves to that same sort of hate message,? said Stan Penfold, executive director of the Utah AIDS Foundation. ?This drive is a good, positive spin to put on something that is pretty hateful.?

Kalina Duncan, LGSU co-vice president, said the U?s gay and lesbian population originally planned on an ?angel protest,? where the members would wear large angel wings that would block Phelps from the public. They later decided to ignore him.

?Our opinion is more apathetic. He is coming on fall break, and he is not going to be heard by a lot of people,? Duncan said.

Phelps has sent faxes to campus organizations that read God destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City to show the world America?s sins.

He called the U ?a prime example of America?s irreversible apostasy.? The flyer reads that gays and lesbians ?run the school.?

While in Salt Lake City, Phelps will also protest churches that he believes are sympathetic to gays and lesbians, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, All Saints Episcopal Church, Our Savior?s Lutheran Church and the United Church of Christ.

?He hates Mormons as much as he hates gays and lesbians,? Moss said.

The pledge drive also includes raising money for each of these churches. Moss and the AIDS Foundation are attempting to contact each entity to see how they would like to accept the donations.

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