Funeral protest ban clears Florida Senate committee

Picketing, protesting and other disturbances would be banned at all funerals and burials in Florida under legislation that’s on a fast track.

It would expand an existing ban that’s limited to funerals and burials involving military honor details. Violators can face up to a year in jail.

The Senate version – SB 118 – received final committee approval on Feb. 19.  A similar bill – HB 15 – earlier cleared all committees. Both now are ready for floor votes after the legislative session begins March 5.

Florida’s existing law, a federal statute and similar legislation in other states are largely a response to military funeral protests by a Kansas-based church created by the anti-gay Rev. Fred Phelps. The Westboro Baptist Church is famous for its “God Hates Fags” campaign and contends that God is punishing the United States for tolerating homosexuality.

Protesters often carry signs with message such as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”

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