TOWN OF POUGHKEEPSIE – Hundreds of Vassar College students, intent on celebrating diversity, overwhelmed a brief protest by the hate-monger group Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS. A small group of church members came to the Mid-Hudson Valley Thursday with plans to protest at the West Point funeral of Gen. Normal Schwarzkopf as well as picket a Vassar College in Poughkeepsie.
They got nowhere near the Schwarzkopf funeral.
The college protest was aimed at damning the school for its inclusion of gay students.
But, as three members of the church showed up with placards and messages of hate, some 1,000 college students marched on campus to declare their solidarity.
Vassar spokesman Jeffrey Kosmacher said the students’ emphasis was on the positives at the college.
“Westboro Baptist Church thrives on detention of others", Kosmacher said. "We are focusing our efforts on things happening on campus and celebrating what makes Vassar important and ignoring what else is happening by people who chose to emphasize hate.”
Rev. Joseph Tolton, a 1989 Vassar alum, was the keynote speaker.
“Your sexuality and your gender identity are not burdens, but they are blessings,” Tolton said. “As a dark skin African-American gay man, I declare to the world that my DNA is whole, wholesome, holy good and divine.”
Within 15 minutes after the Westboro people’s arrival, they packed up and drove away.