Town rejects 'Shepard in hell' monument

Casper, Wyo., City Council members on Tuesday night unanimously rejected a request by the notorious anti-gay Rev. Fred Phelps to install a monument saying Matthew Shepard went to hell because he was gay.

The city refused to succumb to lawsuit threats from the preacher, who claims that God hates homosexuals, after a strong outpouring of community opposition to the monument, which had been deemed “revolting” by one gay rights group.

“Mr. Phelps, you are not welcome,” said Councilman Paul Bertoglio. “This city will not allow you to place your monument anywhere in our community.”

On Oct. 7, 1998, Shepard, a Casper native, was tied to a fence outside Laramie, Wyo., beaten unconscious with a gun and left to die. He died five days later.

Phelps wants to install in a park a six-foot granite monument that would include a bronze plaque with Shepard’s image and the words, “Matthew Shepard entered hell October 12, 1998, at age 21 in defiance of God’s solemn warning.”

Phelps, from Topeka, Kan., gained notoriety in 1998, by carrying signs proclaiming “God Hates Fags” outside Shepard’s funeral.

At a City Council meeting earlier this month, city leaders listened to four hours of testimony. All opposed Phelps’ monument. And on Tuesday night, about 50 people prayed for the council.

“As I look at Phelps’ life, I don’t see love as his personal agenda,” said Pastor Milo Miller of the Highland Park Community Church. “He disguises his real agenda under the cloak of Christ.”

Phelps had said that Casper must allow his Scripture-based monument on city grounds because the town already has allowed a Ten Commandments monument, which was donated to the city in the 1960s by the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

The council now must decide whether to take on a lawsuit, move the Ten Commandments monument to private land or create a special area. The council has taken initial steps to create a designated spot for the Ten Commandments. [Yahoo News]