State lawmakers want to stiffen law on protests at funerals - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

State lawmakers want to stiffen law on protests at funerals

Updated:
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ State Representative Paul Wesselhoft wants to make it a misdemeanor to hold a protest or demonstration at a funeral.

The proposal comes after a Kansas hate group protested in July before the funeral of an Oklahoma soldier killed in Iraq.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka protested in Newkirk before the funeral of Army Specialist Jared Hartley. The church contends the death of American soldiers in Iraq is part of God's wrath against the country because homosexuality is flourishing.

Newkirk Police Chief John Hobbs says the protest was allowed. But Hobbs says the group had to leave 30 minutes before the service or violate existing state law that he says makes it a misdemeanor to cause a disturbance at a funeral or interfere with a funeral procession.

Wesselhoft wants to make it a misdemeanor to picket or demonstrate within 500 feet of a funeral and within two hours of the time a funeral is to begin or to end. He says protesters can still exercise their First Amendment Rights, just not at a funeral.
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