HELENA, Mont. – An anti-gay group from Kansas is planning protests at the funeral of Phillip E. Baucus, nephew of Sen. Max Baucus of Montana.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, who have protested at several military funerals around the country, say the deaths are God's punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality. An "upcoming picket schedule" posted on the church's Web site lists Baucus' funeral at the Sieben Ranch in Wolf Creek, Mont., on Sunday.
A funeral home announcement confirmed the date and location of the funeral.
The religious group has drawn the ire of mourning communities around the nation, and a number of states have passed laws banning protests within a certain distance of a cemetery or funeral.
Baucus, who died Saturday during combat operations in Iraq, was the son of John F. and Nina Baucus, who own the historic Sieben ranch. A person answering phones at the Baucus home Thursday said the family has no comment on the protests.
In a statement, Sen. Baucus said the funeral Sunday "is about mourning Phillip and celebrating his life and his service to our country."
"And that's what we are going to do," he said.
Phillip Baucus was part of a Marine Corps battalion based at Twentynine Palms, Calif. He joined the corps in September 2002 and went to Iraq last March. He was killed with three other Marines in the Al Anbar province, west of Baghdad.
The mother of one of the other soldiers told The Seattle Times that all four were in a building that collapsed from a nearby explosion.
The family of another soldier killed in the attack told The Ledger of Lakeland, Fla., that a suicide bomber drove a car loaded with explosives into a building, just behind the checkpoint to their base.