State lawmaker wants to make protests at military funerals a felony

Tuesday, October 25th 2005, 5:59 am
By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- An Indiana state senator wants to make disorderly conduct a felony offense if it occurs at military funerals.

Senator Brent Steele says he'll propose legislation in response to an anti-gay group's protest at the August 28th funeral for Army Staff Sergeant Jeremy Doyle, who died in Iraq. An Oklahoma lawmaker is considering similar legislation.

Members of the Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church dragged US flags on the ground and shouted insults at Doyle's surviving family members outside a mortuary in Martinsville.

The Reverend Fred Phelps contends American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays.

The church is made up mostly of Phelps' children, grandchildren and in-laws.

Oklahoma Representative Paul Wesselhoft says he has conducted many military funerals.

That bill would make it unlawful for anyone to engage in any form of protest within 500 feet of any funeral at a home, mortuary, cemetery or church or other place of worship.