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Meet Westboro Baptist Church’s New Neighbor: A Gay Rights Center In A Rainbow-Painted House

by David Badash on March 19, 2013

in News

Post image for Meet Westboro Baptist Church’s New Neighbor: A Gay Rights Center In A Rainbow-Painted House

The Westboro Baptist Church‘s founders, the Phelps family, have a new neighbor right across the street, a gay rights center, and every time they look out their window, the will now see a rainbow-painted house. The project is the brainchild of Aaron Jackson, and his group, Planting Peace. Today was house painting day, and Jackson and his group, who are raising funds for the project on CrowdRise, note:

For too long, the Westboro Baptist Church has been targeting the LGBTQ community with messages of hate and radicalism. Often, protesting American soldiers’ funerals and organizations that support equality. This faction preaches extremism in our communities and directly targets our youth. To combat their messages of hate and to support equality and anti-bullying initiatives in schools and in our community, Planting Peace has established the Equality House in Topeka, KS. Located directly across from the Westboro Baptist Church, the House is a symbol of equality, peace, and positive change. The house, which is painted the colors of the Pride flag, will serve as the resource center for all Planting Peace equality and anti-bullying initiatives and will stand as a visual reminder of our commitment, as global citizens, to equality for all.

The story is getting a great deal of attention on Gawker, the local Topeka paper, and the Huffington Post invited Jackson to appear in a HuffPo Live segment too. “By the end of today, the inhabitants of the Westboro Baptist Church compound in Topeka, Kansas, should have a new view out their windows, just past their FAG MARRIAGE DOOMS NATIONS sign: a new gay-rights center across the street, painted in brilliant rainbow colors, with a pride flag flying from a 30-foot flagpole,” Gawker’s Sam Eifling writes:

The center is the work of a roving do-gooder named Aaron Jackson, a 31-year-old community-college dropout whose other projects have included opening orphanages in India and Haiti and buying a thousand acres of endangered rain forest in Peru. This year, his charity, Planting Peace, also intends to de-worm every child in Guatemala. Jackson was drawn to Topeka after reading about Josef Miles, the local boy who last year, at the age of nine, photobombed one of the Westboro protests with a handmade sign that read “God Hates No One.” Jackson had been looking for a way to support equality, anti-bullying programs, and some sort of pro-LGBT initiative, he said. “I’ve been accused in the past of being all over the place, and they’re probably right on some level,” Jackson told me last night by phone. “Right now we are standing up to bigotry and promoting equality.” So while considering the Westboro Baptist Church, he began dinking around on Google Maps late one night. He pulled up the church, at 3701 SW 12th St. in Topeka, and took a virtual walk around the block. In the front yard of a house across the street, he noticed a For Sale sign. “It hit me right away,” Jackson told me last night by phone. “Huh. That would be interesting to own a house across from the Westboro Baptist Church and turn it into something.’ And then, within five seconds: ‘And I’ll paint it the color of the pride flag.’ Perfect.”

Of course, the Phelps family is enjoying the attention:


Image, top, via Facebook

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