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MI Groups Gather to Show Solidarity Against Church's Hate Message

November 18, 2010

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan doesn't tolerate hate groups. That's the message a number of organizations plan to send to members of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church when they arrive in Lansing today. The church is known for anti-gay rhetoric and protesting at military funerals.

According to the church website, a protest is planned at East Lansing High School because it is known for firm policies protecting LGBT students. National Association of Social Workers-Michigan Director Maxine Thome says her organization and others plan to gather in East Lansing to show their disapproval.

"Social work as a profession has a strong value based on non-discrimination and protesting where discrimination occurs, whether it's in the workplace, the university or the community."

Thome says social workers see the devastating impacts of bullying and discrimination in their everyday work and the ultimate cost to health care and society. She likens Westboro's dialog of hate to that of the Ku Klux Klan.

Michigan Department of Civil Rights spokesman Harold Core says the best method for dealing with the Westboro rallies is peaceful solidarity to show Michigan won't accept intolerance.

"We urge people to do something peaceful somewhere else. I think the last thing we really need is to bring more attention to this distraction from outside the state."

In addition to East Lansing High School, Westboro Church plans to protest at Wayne State University Hillel Center for Jewish students, Detroit, and at the Islamic Center, Dearborn.

Amy Miller/Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MI