Westboro Baptist Church Members Now Live Across the Street From a Rainbow-Striped Gay Rights Center

Equality House will be a resource for anti-bullying and LGBT rights.

Photo Credit: Planting Peace

Starting Tuesday, the Westboro Baptist Church will share the block with a gay rights center painted in vibrant, rainbow stripes.

Six months ago, the non-profit Planting Peace bought the white house with a price tag of $83,000. Founder Aaron Jackson’s sole purchasing motivation was the view of America’s most notorious hate stunt group, known for picketing the funerals of American soldiers and its signature "God hates fags" slogan. He says he felt inspired to spread love in the presence of hate.

"It hit me right away," Jackson told Gawker. "Huh. That would be interesting to own a house across from the Westboro Baptist Church and turn it into something.' And then, within five seconds: 'And I'll paint it the color of the pride flag.' Perfect."

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Planting Peace, a charity whose building projects include orphanages in Haiti and India, completed the house’s transformation yesterday. Jackson and friends hoisted a rainbow pride flag 30-feet in the air to mark their territory. Just across the street hangs a banner emblazoned “God hates America.” But at least one WBC member said she wasn’t fazed.

“I love it,” church member Shirley Phelps-Roper told WDAF-TV, Kansas City’s Fox affiliate. “What he does is he keeps the eyes of the whole earth on this message. Now everyday all people are thinking about is God will not have same sex marriage.”

But the rainbow center, named Equality House, seems to be sparking thoughts of public kindness and goodwill, rather than interpretations of God’s stance on gay marriage. WDAF-TV reports people have been honking horns in support, and Jackson says, “There has been no negative response.” Jackson started a fundraising site to turn the house into a LGBT ally center. The site’s mission statement reads:

Located directly across from the Westboro Baptist Church, the House is a symbol of equality, peace, and positive change. The house, which is painted the colors of the Pride flag, will serve as the resource center for all Planting Peace equality and anti-bullying initiatives and will stand as a visual reminder of our commitment, as global citizens, to equality for all.

At time of publication, Planting Peace raised nearly $19,000 for Equality House with a goal of $1 million.

Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.