Phelps offers reward for capture of gay basher

BY Advocate.com Editors

June 17 2003 11:00 PM ET

After Michael Moon reported to police that he was attacked outside a Des Moines gay bar and that he believed the perpetrator might have been influenced by the hate speech of Fred Phelps, a homophobic Kansas minister who traveled to Des Moines to stage antigay protests, Phelps and his church clan want to set the record straight. So they are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the attack, which occurred last month and resulted in Moon's leg being broken, the Des Moines Register reports.

"A crime is a crime," said Shirley Phelps-Roper, a member of Phelps's Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., who is also the church's attorney. "Two wrongs don't make a right." She said the reward offer shows that the church, whose members picketed a Des Moines high school commencement at which a gay student received top honors as well as a meeting of a Des Moines gay group a week before the alleged assault, does not condone violence. She also expressed doubt that the reported assault even occurred and wanted to squelch any suspicions that church members' presence in Des Moines influenced the assailant.

Moon, 32, told police his attacker forced him to say he would seek God's forgiveness for being gay. He then said the presence of the Phelps clan in Des Moines may have gotten the attacker riled up, resulting in the assault at the gay bar.

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