Anti-gay church pickets funeral of lesbian US Army sergeant

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Westboro Baptist Church has attempted to disrupt the funeral of US Army Staff Sergeant Donna Johnson, a married lesbian soldier who was killed this month along with several other people in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan.

Hundreds of people showed up to block Westboro members from disrupting the service in North Carolina over the weekend which passed off largely without incident.

Westboro has become notorious in recent years for picketing at the funerals of dead US service personnel which it justifies because of America’s growing acceptance towards LGBT people.

The church’s provocative displays prompted legislative action earlier this year, when President Obama signed a law placing restrictions on the timing and location of military funeral protests.

Johnson is survived by her wife Tracy Dice, also a member of the armed forces.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press has been criticised for apparently failing to mention Johnson’s wife in initial coverage relating to her death on 3 Oct.

The copy was subsequently used in the Army Times.

According to the Daily Mail, some readers said it was insensitive and also homophobic as the spouses of Johnson’s fallen colleagues were mentioned.

On Monday, Michael Biesecker, the reporter who compiled the copy, issued a response on Twitter, saying: “Story was written 2 days before family statement confirming SSgt. [Johnson] had a wife. Check date before assuming.”