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Saturday, March 22, 2014

His Extreme Homophobia May Have Helped

This morning on America Weekend, I talked about the death of Fred Phelps, leader of the anti-gay cult in Kansas which staged photo-op-ready protests at funerals across the country. I said that the campaign by Phelps and his family members, though horrible and painful to those who had suffered the loss of a loved one, may have had one upside. It showed the world the ugly face of homophobia, and in doing so, instead of convincing others to agree with them, may have actually helped some people accept gays and lesbians. People on the fence on the matter saw what Phelps did and thought, "I do not want to be on that side of the fence."

Combine that with the fact that gay marriage has become more accepted all across the country -- even states that voted to ban it a decade ago have moved towards majority approval -- and the growing number of young people who have grown up around homosexuals, and you have a very different environment than the one Phelps' cult portrayed. Moderates and non-extremists did not want to put a stake in the same ground as those offensive bigots.

After that segment on my show this morning, listener Dave Purcell sent me a link to a segment of Rachel Maddow's show last night, which I had not seen, in which she expressed similar thoughts on the subject -- although she refused to say Phelps' name...