Anti-gay Westboro Baptist clan to picket lesbian soldier's funeral

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Sgt. Donna Johnson died in Afghanistan.

The anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church clan plans to picket the funeral of a lesbian soldier killed on Oct. 1 in Afghanistan.

The funeral of Sgt. Donna Johnson, 29, of Raeford, N.C., takes place on Saturday.

The Westboro group, established by the Rev. Fred Phelps in Topeka, Kan., has for years picketed LGBT events and also the funerals of U.S. servicemembers, maintaining that their deaths are God's punishment of a satanic United States that promotes homosexuality.

Johnson died in Afganistan along with two other soldiers with the North Carolina National Guard – Sgt. Thomas Butler IV, 25, of Leland, N.C., and Sgt. Jeremy Hardison, 23, of Brown’s Summit, N.C.

The Pentagon said all three were members of the National Guard’s 514th Military Police Co. in Winterville, N.C.

Johnson had been deployed twice to Iraq before going to Afghanistan. Hardison had been deployed once to Iraq. Butler was on his first deployment.

“They were the embodiment of citizen soldiers who put everything on hold to go in harm’s way for all of us,” Maj. Gen. Gregory Lusk of N.C. National Guard, said in a statement to the Charlotte Observer. “They will be remembered and sorely missed.”

The American Military Partner Association, which exists to assist LGBT soldiers and their families, reported on its Facebook page that Johnson is survived by her wife Tracy Dice. The couple had been together for several years.

The bomb went off near the Pakistan border. A report in the Observer said a man wearing an explosives-packed vest rode into a crowded market and detonated the bomb. In addition to the deaths of the three guard members, four Afghan police officers, six Afghan civilians and the bomber died.