Cannabis in Colorado

Westboro Baptist Church members greeted by gay rights supporters in Pueblo

Westboro Baptist Church greeted by gay rights supporters

PUEBLO, Colo. - Members of the Westboro Baptist Church who came to Pueblo to protest gay marriage were greeted by hundreds of gay rights supporters.

Seven church members stood outside the Pueblo County Courthouse to picket, while inside about 400 counter protestors held a news conference to voice support for gay rights.

"The [Westboro Baptist Church] came here to spread hate to our community. And we're here today to say hate's not allowed," said James Ward, president of the Southern Colorado Equality Alliance.

Church members said they targeted Pueblo for their protest because Pueblo County was one of the first in the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"This very courthouse giving out marriage licenses to same-sex couples -- it's an abomination to God," said Betty Phelps, daughter-in-law of the deceased former head of the church, Fred Phelps.

Church members remained relatively quiet during the protest despite counter protestors chanting. One shouted: "Westboro family go home!

When KRDO NewsChannel 13 asked Phelps what she made of the response to their visit, she responded, "Whatever."

Cheers erupted when church members left after standing outside for less than a half hour. Counter protestors began to follow them but several law enforcement officers blocked the road and stopped them from doing so.

Jerry Carter, who organized the counter protest, said he wasn't surprised by the low turnout of Westboro Baptist Church members.

"The message they're trying to get across is hate and they typically don't have large numbers," Carter said.

Some of the 400 counter protestors drove from as far away as Castle Rock.

"This drive is worth it to send a message that love is love and no one should be discriminated for who they love," said Claudia Piras.

After picketing outside of the courthouse, members of Westboro Baptist Church took their protest to Marisol Therapeutics to voice their opposition to marijuana.

"In the Bible it tells you in the last days you're supposed to be sober, vigilant, watchful.  And I don't know how you can be sober when you're smoking pot," Phelps said.

Dozens of law enforcement officers from the sheriff's office and police department monitored the protests. No arrests were made.

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