09 August 2012

American military funerals to receive protection from protesters

Earlier this week President Obama signed a veterans benefits bill, Honoring American Veterans Act of 2011, HR 1627, which included a provision to protect military funerals from protesters. 

The driving force behind the provision of military funerals was New Hampshire Republican Congressman Charles Bass.  In a press release on his website today, Congressman Bass states the "measure will preserve the dignity of these somber events while still protecting the First Amendment rights that our nation's heroes have fought and died for. I am very encouraged that Congress can come together to enact a bipartisan measure for the men and women who have served our country and especially for their families, and I thank the President for signing it into law this week."

Rep. Bass' measure will strengthen federal regulations currently in place by:
  • Increasing the quiet time before and after military funeral services during which disruptive protests are prohibited from 60 minutes to 120 minutes;
  • Increasing the buffer around a military funeral service from 300 feet to 500 feet and increasing the buffer around access routes to a funeral service area from 150 feet to 300 feet;
  • And by increasing civil penalties on violators.
The Westboro Baptist Church ("WBC") held a protest in 2007 at the funeral of Army Captain Jonathan Grassbaugh from Hampstead, NH who was killed by an Improvised Explosion Devise, or IED, while serving in the U.S. Army on patrol in Iraq. Although Grassbaugh was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, his funeral services were held in Hampstead and were protested by members of the WBC.

No comments:

Post a Comment