Boxed in by metal barriers, four members of the Westboro Baptist Church assembled in a makeshift cage in Cranston, R.I., Thursday to do what the congregation always does: Protest against gay rights.
The token delegation from the fringe, Kansas-based group came armed with their brightly colored signs and anti-gay slurs, hoping to make their voices heard above the celebratory fray as Rhode Island began conducting same-sex weddings that same morning. Instead, they demonstrated -- as they seemingly always do -- that their caustic exhortations are increasingly becoming outliers in a nation that has largely begun to embrace gay marriage, or at the very least, not stand in its way.
Providence Journal reports that the handful of members were outnumbered even by the escort of 12 police officers that had been assigned to monitor their demonstration. Counter-protesters flocked to the scene with their own signs and slogans, using the erected metal pen as a staging area.
The counter-protest eventually followed the congregation to Providence, their numbers growing into the hundreds as the day went on. Everywhere the Westboro group went, the crowd followed, until the anti-gay church's members reportedly packed up and made their way out of Rhode Island in the early afternoon.
It appears that Westboro's ranks are being spread thin as LGBT rights expand around the nation. Gay weddings also began in Minnesota on Thursday, forcing the church to dispatch four of its members to protest there as well. They were no match for the counter-demonstration, the Post-Bulletin reported, as more than 100 same-sex marriage supporters showed up in opposition.