(SAN DIEGO) Over three-hundred students, young GLBT activists and religious community members came out to San Diego High School (SDHS) this afternoon in response to the protest held by the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC).
According to the WBC’s website, SDHS was chosen as a protest site because “[they] think it is soooo cool to be fags."
Several dozen police officers were on sight to monitor the crowd. The City College Gay & Lesbian Alliance club helped to keep protestors off the sidewalks so that SDHS students exiting from school would not be forced out onto the streets.
Seven members of the WBC, four of them children, took over one street corner while the rest of the demonstrators gathered on the surrounding corners.
City Beat Editor Dave Rollins tweeted “exactly as City Beat predicted. Pathetic WBC turnout, three adults, four children.”
Across the street, event organizers were armed with megaphones and led the crowd in chanting, “hey hey ho ho – homophobia’s got to go.” Many of the demonstrators had pots and pans- and for the better part of an hour, it was their message that was most audible to those driving or walking down Park Blvd.
The WBC however, was not only protesting homosexuality. Several members of the church carried signs displaying the message “Obama is the anti-Christ.”
“Obama stands for everything that God calls an abomination,” said WBC protester Sam Phelps. “His campaign platform was that he would be a fierce advocate for gay rights. God almighty calls homosexuality an abomination. God himself destroyed nations over this, and Obama is going to be an advocate for this. The nation has embraced him, the whole world has embraced him, and he doesn’t care what the standard of God is. Our nation is in big trouble for putting that beast in the White House.”
Although many congregations are still torn on the issue of marriage equality, priests and pastors from several congregations were in attendance at today’s protest.
Said St. Paul’s Cathedral priest Cannon Albert Ogle, “I wanted to be here to show that there is another side of the church. It’s a wonderful turn out. It is very significant that this school will be changed as a result of what we are seeing today. Pastor Phelps is a public bully, and we need to put a stop to it.”
Pastor Arbid Straube from the 1st Unitarian Universalist Church agreed. “There are some gay and lesbian students coming out of that high school and they are going to see messages of hate from the religious community. We want them to be sure that they also see messages of love and acceptance from the religious community. That’s the only reason we’re here.”
Carlos Marquez, Director of Community Programs and Public Affairs at the San Diego GLBT Community Center, felt the peaceful opposition was a success.
“We are really happy to see a peaceful protest by the GLBT community and San Diego high school youth today,” said Marquez. “Our purpose in being here today was to make sure that the youth saw the other side of Phelps’ message and also so that everyone knows we’re advocating for hate free and safe schools. , and SDHS is no exception to that.”