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Father of dead U.S. Marine ordered to pay organizers of anti-gay protest

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
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Fred Phelps

The father of a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq has been ordered to pay $16,510 to a family that protested his son’s funeral in Maryland.

Albert Snyder sued members of the Westboro Baptist Church because they waved signs saying “God hates the USA,” “Matt is in Hell” and others bearing anti-gay slurs at the 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.

A federal jury in Baltimore awarded Snyder $11 million in damages in 2007, saying the group from Topeka, Kan., intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the family. The award was reduced to $5 million and was eventually overturned after an appeal by church group leader Fred Phelps.

Now, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered Snyder to pay $16,510.80 to Phelps to cover the cost of their appeals.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on the case.

Snyder told the Baltimore Sun he’s received about 3,000 e-mails from people who planned to contribute to the payment. The American Legion is also asking people to donate, and has collected over $5,000 in under 18 hours.

Phelps and his children have been called the “most hated family in America” because they picket funerals with signs reading “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for dead soldiers,” among others.

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