The ACLU defends the rights of all the people.

One of our favorite quotes from Molly Ivins:

“It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.”

The ACLU has lead that struggle for 90 years. In fact, the ACLU was created for just that purpose. The ACLU is not here to defend the rights of only the people we like, but all the people.

Not just the people who look like us. All the people.

Not just the ones who share our views. All the people.

Not just the ones whose behavior is popular. All the people.

Today it should be no surprise that the ACLU supports the legal rights of Rev. Fred Phelps to picket the funerals of American Soldiers. Phelps and his followers condemn “fags” and celebrate the deaths of U.S. soldiers as signs that God hates America because of our approval of the “LGBT lifestyle.”

There is no doubt that the Reverend Phelps’s views are hateful and reflect a set of beliefs that are totally contradictory to the ACLU’s long history in support of Gay Rights. As early as 1936, the ACLU defended the play, The Children’s Hour, that was banned in Boston because of its lesbian content. And just this year, the ACLU successfully defended Constance McMillen’s right to take her girlfriend to the Senior Prom in Fulton, Mississippi.

The ACLU supports the rights and freedoms of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people. The Rev. Phelps does not. Nonetheless, the Reverend Phelps is within his rights. Whether we like the speech or not, free speech is defended by the Constitution.

When people challenge you about the logic of the ACLU supporting Fred Phelps, remind them what Molly said so well …”extend the liberties of the Constitution to everyone in America.”


Roberta Schonemann and Judy Weitzman

Co-Presidents, Greater Lafayette Chapter ACLU of Indiana