Funeral demonstration bill remains on track following protest

Thursday, November 10th 2005, 5:43 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A state lawmaker is proposing a ban on public demonstrations at funerals.

The measure is a response to protests by members of a Kansas church at the funerals of slain soldiers.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, have protested at soldiers' funerals in Oklahoma and elsewhere. They say God is punishing US soldiers for defending a country that harbors gays.

Representative Paul Wesselhoft of Moore, a retired Army chaplain, wants to stop demonstrations within 500 feet of a funeral.

Gary Allison, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Tulsa, says the bill appears to violate the First Amendment rights of free speech and to peaceably assemble.