State lawmakers are, once again, attempting to put distance between those mourning at a funeral and those using the funerals to publicize their antagonistic views.
Rep. Ward Franz (R-West Plains) sponsors HB 276, 233 and 274, the latest effort to keep the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas from exploiting military funerals to publicize their contention that military deaths are evidence of God’s punishment for America tolerating homosexuality.
The courts haven’t been kind to such efforts. The legislature tried to restrict protests in 2006, but the courts overturned the law as an infringement of First Amendment, free speech rights.
Nevertheless, the House has given tentative endorsement to the measure that would prohibit protestors from coming within 500 feet of a funeral and would restrict protests from an hour before the funeral until two hours afterward.