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Kansas

‘Equality House’ moves in across the street from anti-gay Westboro church

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

TOPEKA, Kan. — Planting Peace, a progressive non-profit organization dedicated to environmental conservation, has purchased a house across the street from the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, giving it a new paint job that pays homage to the rainbow flag, a symbol of LGBT pride.

The organization said Tuesday that a Google Earth search last December led them to buying the house, located directly across the street from the Westboro compound, home to anti-gay extremists famous for their “Gods Hate Fags” protests.

Equality House, Topeka, Kan.

Aaron Jackson, co-founder of Planting Peace, told LGBTQ Nation that the group has settled on naming the home “Equality House,” and that Planting Peace would launch a campaign to counter their neighbor’s anti-gay protests.

“Planting Peace’s mission is to spread peace. We have orphanages, medical programs and a rainforest conservation program all over the world,” said Jackson. “Our goal with this is to raise awareness, stand up to bigotry, and promote equality.”

Equality House volunteers.
Photos courtesy of Aaron Jackson

Jackson said Planting Peace plans to create a drop-in center at the house designed to support LGBT anti-bullying efforts.

He said that the organization has created a CrowdRise page, which as already raised over $10,000., with the ultimate goal of raising more than a million dollars to support equality efforts. Jackson said funds raised from this project will be used to create and sustain anti-bullying programs.

“An estimated 4,000 kids commit suicide each year because they hear a message that they are ‘less than.’ It is our goal to help change that message. We thought no better place to start that message than countering the message of the Westboro Baptist Church,” he said.

“I always was very interested in equality and activism for gay people, and the kids killing themselves — some of it influenced by their (Westboro’s protests) actions — it made sense,” he said. “I’ve wanted to do something, and I knew when I saw that house for sale that it all came together.”

Meanwhile, Jackson said that he’s already “met the neighbors,” and they have been very friendly thus far.

He noted that just minutes before speaking with LGBTQ Nation on Tuesday afternoon, Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of Westboro founder Fred Phelps, had been out front with her camera taking pictures of the Equality House’s new paint job.

“We want this house to be a message that where there’s hate, there’s also love,” said Jackson.

“But we also want to raise awareness and capital, and we want to put all that money into creating and sustaining anti-bullying programs, along with supporting anti-bullying programs that already exist,” he said.

Beyond the symbolic message of the home, Jackson said that volunteers who live and work at the Equality House will focus on promoting equality and managing the groups anti-bullying initiatives.

The Westboro Baptist Church is best known for its protest of the funerals of U.S. service members, and first came into the national spotlight in 1998, when it picketed at the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay man who was brutally attacked on the night of October 6, 1998, then tied to a fence and left to die.

The church is not affiliated with the Baptist denomination or any other Baptist church. According to news reports, almost all of its members — fewer than 100 — are related to founder Fred Phelps either by blood or marriage.

Donations to Planting Peace and Equality House can be made here.

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46 more reader comments:

  1. in ur face

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:48pm
  2. ha!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:49pm
  3. nice

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:49pm
  4. im all about equality but WOW is that an eye sore

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:49pm
  5. Now this is awesome :)

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:49pm
  6. like, like like, like like, like,……

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:50pm
  7. Hell fuckin’ yeah!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:51pm
  8. Take that Westboro ….idiots

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:51pm
  9. “Real Topeka people, man!” ~ Cameron Crowe <3

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:51pm
  10. It’s BEAUTIFUL !! <3

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:51pm
  11. AMAZINGNESS!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:51pm
  12. except that the rainbow is also a Christian symbol. It stands for God’s promise to not flood the Earth again, so I don’t really know how much of an impact it would really have had, but Fu*k Westboro just the same!! :)

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:51pm
  13. Love it!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:52pm
  14. When I’m older and have my own house, I’m going to paint the picket fence sorta like this. Gay pride! I support it!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:52pm
  15. Dangerous, though!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:52pm
  16. Just beautiful!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:53pm
  17. I wish I could paint a few boards for my daughter!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:53pm
  18. I hope it’s real! If so it is THE best pic on the net!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:53pm
  19. The greatest leaders of change in the world faced danger in everything they said, did and stood for. Change doesn’t come easy.

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:54pm
  20. I like the colors! Really gets the Gay rights message across!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:55pm
  21. Love it!!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:57pm
  22. Ha Ha! In your face haters! This is such a BOLD statement! I just hope they have a good security system. Hateful Christians (those 2 words together are not what Jesus had in mind) can be pretty evil when they believe in something. I say bring it on!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 4:57pm
  23. Probably gonna be tough for them, but I would do this too! Always push the issue, or it will be ignored!!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 5:00pm
  24. Absolutely Awesome!!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 5:00pm
  25. cool

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 5:04pm
  26. THIS!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 5:05pm
  27. let the flames begin

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 5:05pm
  28. SO glad this house stand there….. Such a lovely thing standing against Bigotry, fear and hatred. BIGOTS WILL END>>>>>>> Love those who respect others with love <3333

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 5:06pm
  29. Those Westboro people are nutty enough to burn the place down

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 5:14pm
  30. This seems to be creating a situation that will not go well- especially when you consider the level of crazy exhibited by these bigots…

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 5:16pm
  31. Great, though the order is: blue, turquoise, green, yellow

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 5:33pm
  32. No it is not an eye sore … it’s Diversity, it’s Pride.. It’s we are not going to roll over any more, we are not 2nd class citizens. We are Humans who feel & bleed just like everyone else…

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 5:35pm
  33. Beautiful! I love it! :)

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 5:43pm
  34. we should all have rainbow houses , looks great

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 5:56pm
  35. LOVE it!….But…hope they are ready for those psychos at Westboro to do something stupid…those people are REALLY messed up

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 6:10pm
  36. LOVE IT. Stick to those hating bastards.

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 6:21pm
  37. LOVE IT!!!! That’ll drive them crazy!…oh wait, they already are, my bad

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 6:25pm
  38. Awesome!!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 6:39pm
  39. Jorge Alberto chequea.

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 6:54pm
  40. now that is something i would do…

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 7:14pm
  41. Awesome yes. But this could look worse than the Hatfields and McCoys if somebody doesn’t move Westboro

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 7:17pm
  42. Stay Strong Equality House!

    Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 8:53pm
  43. I Started laughing when I saw this article. I loved it so much I just cracked out laughing, I thought it was great to see that someone had the guts to put this kind of a statement across the street from the most disgraceful church in the United States!

    Posted on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 12:19am
  44. i love this! pity those living across the street from the wbc thugs, though.

    Posted on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 1:39am
  45. Who doesn’t like rainbows!?!?

    Posted on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 8:16am
  46. aWESOME <3

    Posted on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 8:49am