An Open Letter to Fred Phelps
Dear Fred:

Hi there! How's it going?

Man, oh man, the Westboro Baptist Church sure does have its work cut out for it these days, doesn't it? I honestly don't know how you do it. Do you actually attend all the pickets you organize? How on earth do you manage to get from the sodomite whorehouse known as the Village of New Paltz, NY all the way to the fag-infested Cedar Crest High School in Harrisburg, PA  in such record time and still find time to design the Matthew Shepard Entry-Into-Hell monument?  I certainly hope you're taking care of yourself. I'd hate to see anything happen to you as a result of your tireless quest to rid the world of infidels and debauchers.

Since you're undoubtedly very busy forging all those irons you've been saving for those of us bound for the flaming fires of hell, I thought you'd appreciate a little news update from here in the heart of Gomorrah on an issue near and dear to both our hearts.

By now, you've probably heard the regrettable news that the Massachusetts State Legislature, after hours of tortuous debate, has given tentative approval to a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage but establishing civil unions for same sex couples.

I know, I know. It's not what you would prefer. It's not what I would prefer either. Ironic, isn't it, Fred, that we should find ourselves united in our opposition to such a shameful cop-out on the part of my legislators. Yet here we are, each of us rooting in our own special way for the fragile accord to unravel under the weight of its own hypocrisy.

Anyway, I'm writing to you, Fred, because I need your help. I figure, out of all the antigay activists on the planet, you're the one who is best qualified to explain to me the difference between your antigay rhetoric and the antigay rhetoric employed by those who are supposedly more "moderate" in their views.

After all, Fred, you are the guy who puts the "hate" in "hate speech." I mean, your website -- wow. "God Hates Fags" dot com. What can I say? I mean, I'm a professional writer, and I am utterly awed by its articulate simplicity. It's catchy, to-the-point, and a succinct expression of your philosophy in three pithy little words. And your headlines? "Sodomy is a sin worthy of death," and "Jesus Christ died for only those who believe" are sheer genius. There's nothing wishy-washy about you, Fred. You call it like you see it, and you're not afraid who hears.

So here's what I don't get. The gay rights lobby -- oh, okay, the sodomites and infidels; sorry -- has repeatedly demonstrated, time and time again, the numerous, tangible ways antigay legislation, particularly the lack of marital privileges, hurts gay people and gay families. Partners of deceased gay people (that would be "dead fags and dykes bound for hell" to you)  stand to lose their homes and assets due to convoluted inheritance and estate tax rules; children of gay partners ("degenerate child molesters" in your vernacular) may be deprived of medical care or the presence of both loving parents in the event of an emergency hospitalization, and gay people in general (aka those "filthy sodomites threatening to destroy our nation" that you're always talking about) are put at risk physically and legally by a rule of law that would relegate them all to a category that is somehow less than fully human. You have to hate someone pretty bad to want to do all that to them, wouldn't you agree? And you, Fred, readily acknowledge that you do. Furthermore, you proudly tell us it's no less than they deserve. You welcome their suffering and would, if you could, personally drop kick their corrupt asses into hell if the opportunity presented itself.

So what's with the rest of the antigay crowd? I mean, really -- are they pussies, or what?

Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston published a lengthy  op-ed piece in the Boston Globe yesterday, in which he insists he harbors no hatred for homosexuals. Not only that, but -- get this -- he calls on all Catholics to "love and treat everyone with respect." Oh, and he adds that, while there may be those who oppose same sex marriage out of "an animosity for homosexuals" (Are your ears burning, Fred? Because I think he means you) he appeals to his flock to "avoid harboring such prejudices."

Please explain this to me, Fred, so that I can understand: how can he claim to not harbor prejudice when he is seeking to deprive an entire class of human beings of a basic civil right solely because of who they are? How can he claim to carry love and compassion in his heart for the very same people he is trying to hurt by force of constitutional law? And how, in God's name, can he claim to abhor discrimination while actively seeking to write said discrimination into the state constitution? I mean, if that's his idea of "love and compassion," I'd hate to be on his bad side.                          

Oh, and it's not just O'Malley. There were 179 state legislators, not to mention numerous citizens in the gallery and on the sidewalks outside the State House, who made the very same claims, all the while doing everything in their power to make the lives of homosexuals as difficult as they possibly could.

You know and I know what's really going on here, Fred. Beneath all these halfhearted pleas for tolerance and understanding beats the bitter heart of homophobia -- a fearful, ignorant and selfish heart. They don't believe gay people to have the right to live where they want and love whom they want in peace and tranquility. They want to make sure gay people will never have what they have, will never be as good, as worthy, as they are. Consciously or otherwise, they want to hurt gay people, and they want to use the rule of law to justify it. As if enshrining their loathing in the state constitution somehow makes it more legitimate than what it actually is. Because that will make it all okay.       

This is why I think you need to get up here, Fred. You need to show these weaklings the true face of their own homophobia. You need to give voice to the feelings they won't acknowledge they have. You need to hold yourself up as a mirror to those who claim they don't hate gay people, they don't condone discrimination. The ones who insist they love the sinner but just hate the sin.

I think it's about time you show them the truth.

And the truth is, they've already got the hate part nailed. They just need to work a little harder on the love.

See you soon (I hope)!!!

Love, xoxoxo

Your Good Friend Leslie