Same-sex Maryland couples planning to tie the knot were greeted by anti-gay marriage protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church outside the Annapolis courthouse on Jan. 2.
The Baltimore Sun reports that four members of the ultra-conservative Kansas church, which has previously picketed the funerals of Apple CEO Steve Jobs and slain gay student Matthew Shepard, made Annapolis' Anne Arundel Circuit Court their first Maryland stop as they object to the state's new gay marriage law, which took effect at midnight on New Year's Day.
Patch reports that Shirley Phelps-Roper, the daughter of church founder Fred Phelps, sang songs and shouted that God sent Newtown shooter Adam Lanza from about 8-8:45 a.m.
Fortunately for the state's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, more than 250 demonstrators participated in a counter-protest staged by St. Anne's Episcopal Church, which is located not far from the courthouse.
"I think it's important as a town that we say we are not going to tolerate this kind of hatred," Mayor Josh Cohen told Annapolis Patch. "It also draws attention to the fact that Maryland is a very tolerant state."
Also joining the counter-protest were a half-dozen students from Annapolis High School, who told the Sun a history teacher had approved of their plan to skip class to attend the event. "Their whole organization is offensive," one student said. "They were here to preach hate, we were there to preach love."
A second Westboro protest was reportedly planned in front of the Baltimore County Circuit Courthouse in Towson, according to Pink News.
View 12 actions taken against Westboro in 2012 below: