Hundreds of people turned out to counter-protest members of the Westboro Baptist Church who had traveled to picket Maryland courthouses on Wednesday - the day courthouses began to perform same-sex marriages in the state.
The church posted online that it was targeting Maryland as it had been the first in the US to legalize same-sex marriage in a popular vote.
‘Westboro brings these words of warning, knowing they may be the last that you get,’ the group posted online.
‘Your duty is to fear and obey God, and do it like you mean it, with joy and gladness.’
In the state capital of Annapolis more than 250 protesters, many of whom were members of local Baptist, Presbyterian and Unitarian congregations, were joined by the city’s Mayor Joshua Cohen to outnumber four members of the Westboro Baptist Church.
‘When people came to our city to preach hate, we stood up to them,’ Cohen told the Baltimore Sun after the protest, ‘It was a beautiful scene.’
The protest was also attended by students from Annapolis High School who said their teacher had allowed them to skip class to attend the protest.
‘Their whole organization is offensive,’ Annapolis High student Adam Walden told the Baltimore Sun, ‘They were here to preach hate, we were there to preach love.’
‘[They] don't have the right to ruin someone's wedding day,’ said fellow student Sarah Sykora, ‘It makes us really mad, so we wanted to stand up.’
Westboro Baptist Church members then traveled to the Baltimore County Circuit Courthouse where they were met by dozens more counter-protestors who said that they didn’t want anybody’s wedding to be ruined by the church members.
Baltimore resident Melissa Tillery told the newspaper that she had attended because she ‘didn’t want anybody’s wedding to be ruined.’
‘We wanted to brighten the courthouse instead of bringing doom and gloom.’
Two weeks ago the church threatened to picket memorial services for victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Connecticut but failed to show after hundreds traveled to Newtown to form a human barricade against church members.