Monday, August 28, 2006

Saga of the Rainbow Flag: Fighting for the "right to coexist"

Living without intimidation -- or a brick through the window -- is one of the reasons gay rights supporters came to Meade, Kansas, on Sunday.

Tiny Meade in southwestern Kansas became the focus of the anti-gay and funeral-picketing Westboro Baptist Church, The Kansas Equality Coalition and the media after a controversy over the right of a local hotel to fly the rainbow flag. In the last month, the flag has been cut down and stolen and a brick with the word "fag" was thrown through the window of The Lakeway Hotel.

The Hutchinson News provided good coverage of the day's events and explanation of why the civil rights supporters and the Equality Coalition and its Southwest Kansas Chapter has focused on the town. The News reported:
"We're basically trying to stand up for the right to coexist with others without having a brick thrown through the window," said Dennis Russell, a Wichita State University student sporting a rainbow flag over his shoulders and a rainbow wig on his head.

Sherry Coles of Coldwater, a coalition member whose son died of AIDs, called the Westboro showing "a good opportunity to let people see hate masquerading as religion." She said the Topeka church represents "pure evil" and, in touting the rights of gay people, said "all men are created equal," alluding back to the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

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