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Services for two Camp Pendleton Marines killed in Afghanistan may draw antigay picketing

June 20, 2011 | 11:53 am

A protest and counterprotest at a military funeral.

Services for two Camp Pendleton Marines killed in Afghanistan have been targeted for picketing by a small religious group that celebrates U.S. battlefield deaths as a sign of God's wrath.

The Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., has announced it plans Monday to picket the funeral of Lance Cpl. Nicholas O'Brien in Gastonia, N.C., and the memorial Wednesday of Lance Cpl. Sean O'Connor in Douglas, Wyo.

O'Brien, 21, and O'Connor, 22, were part of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, based at Camp Pendleton. Both were killed in combat in Helmand province.

Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps believes that U.S. personnel are being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan because of God's anger at America's growing tolerance of homosexuality.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the group's right to picket as long as it obeys restrictions on proximity. The case involved picketing at the funeral of a Marine from Twentynine Palms.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: A protest and counterprotest at a military funeral. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Click to learn more about the more than 600 Californians who have died in support of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

Readers are invited to share memories about O'Brien and O'Connor on the California's War Dead database which chronicles the lives of more than 600 Californians who have died while supporting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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