Idaho officials to Phelps: Ten Commandments monument stays
January 28 2004 12:00 AM ET
Nampa, Ida., officials say they have no intention to remove the Ten Commandments monument from City Hall grounds, despite a Kansas pastor's claim that its presence gives him the right to set up an antigay display. This weekend, the Reverend Fred Phelps sent a letter to Mayor Tom Dale and the Nampa city council, saying he has the legal right to publicly display his own antigay message because the city has allowed the Ten Commandments on public property.
Dale said Monday the city is in no hurry to address the request Phelps voiced because it would not affect the city's position on the Ten Commandments monument either way. Dale said Nampa officials will fight to keep the monument in place. "Our initial response is we have no timetable because we have no intention of removing it," Dale said.
The city council has not discussed the situation, according to members Lynda Clark and Stephen Kren. Kren said the earliest opportunity could come at a council meeting next week. "As far as my opinion, it's staying," Kren said. Phelps also indicated on Monday that Caldwell, Ida., which also has a Ten Commandments monument at City Hall, could be targeted later. "We want to get them up all over the nation," Phelps said.
The Caldwell mayor's office has not yet received Phelps's request. But Phelps has confronted Boise and other cities across the state and nation with his request. Phelps's followers will return to Idaho on April 6 to argue their case in front of the Boise city council. The members of Phelps's congregation at Westboro Baptist Church last appeared in Boise on December 14 protesting near the Ten Commandments monument in Julia Davis Park. Phelps says he has a legal right to display his own monument condemning Matthew Shepard, a Laramie, Wyo., gay man who was murdered in 1998. He cited a 10th U.S. circuit court of appeals ruling that a city displaying a Ten Commandments monument must also display monuments espousing other beliefs.
After Boise council members received a similar request, they voted to remove the Ten Commandments monument from Julia Davis Park rather than permit Phelps's monument.