Members of the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church, famous for picketing the funerals of US military personnel and gay murder victim Matthew Shepard, met an unlikely group of counter-protesters when they showed up at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia on Memorial Day, the day the US honours its war dead.

Among a group of 80 counter-protesters were 10 members of the Ku Klux Klan.

“It’s the soldier that fought and died and gave them that right to free speech,” Dennis LaBonte, an Imperial Wizard of the Knights of the Southern Cross, said.

The Ku Klux Klan posted a statement on their website in July 2010, distancing their hate group from the Kansas-based hate group founded by the Rev Fred Phelps.

“The Ku Klux Klan … has not or ever will have any connection with the Westboro Baptist Church,” the statement read.

“We absolutely repudiate their tactics of protesting the funerals of US soldiers — men and women who die serving our nation. We do not question their Christianity or right to speak, publish or preach. We agree with many of their teachings, especially that homosexuality is an abomination before Yahvey [sic] God the Father.”

Phelps claims that God is punishing America for allowing gays rights.

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