Money has poured in from people around the country who are outraged about a father being forced to pay court costs of a church that protested his son's funeral with anti-gay signs. The contributors have launched a grass-roots fundraising effort to help the grieving family.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the paper started receiving calls from people who wanted to help the dead marine's father pay the court fees of Westboro Baptist Church. The paper reported:
"I was appalled," said Sally Giannini, a 72-year-old retired bookkeeper from Spokane, Wash., who had called The Baltimore Sun after seeing an article about the court decision against Albert Snyder. "I believe in free speech, but this goes too far."
Living on a fixed income, Giannini said she could send only $10 toward the $16,510.80 that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Snyder to pay to Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., an anti-gay group that travels the country picketing military funerals. The group says military deaths are God's punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality.
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Snyder sued Westboro because its members waved signs saying "God hates fags" and "God hates the USA" at the 2006 funeral in Westminster of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who had been killed in Iraq. A federal jury in Baltimore awarded Snyder $11 million in damages in 2007, saying Phelps' group intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the family. The award was later reduced to $5 million, and eventually overturned on appeal.