“It’s a sad but necessary measure to protect what should be recognized by all reasonable people as a solemn, private and deeply sacred occasion,” [Senate majority leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.] said.
Under the Senate bill, approved without objection by the House with no recorded vote, the “Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act” would bar protests within 300 feet of the entrance of a cemetery and within 150 feet of a road into the cemetery from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after a funeral. Those violating the act would face up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison.
The sponsor of the House bill, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said he took up the issue after attending a military funeral in his home state, where mourners were greeted by “chants and taunting and some of the most vile things I have ever heard.”
“Families deserve the time to bury their American heroes with dignity and in peace,” Rogers said Wednesday before the Hosue vote.
The demonstrators are led by the Rev. Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kan., who has previously organized protests against those who died of AIDS and gay murder victim Matthew Shepard.
In passing, I would like to note that most Christians, including those with orthodox views of homosexual activity and same-sex attraction, are appalled and disgusted by Phelps and his disciples. (Just in case you were unclear on that.)
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