Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation Sunday targeting the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church. The new law forces the attention-seeking fundamentalist group to remain further away from funerals.
The Westboro Baptist Church believes that God is punishing the United States because of America’s acceptance of homosexuality and has gained infamy for picketing the funerals of public figures and military families with offensive signs such as, “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “God Hates America.”
“Every family has a fundamental right to conduct a funeral with reverence and dignity,” said Quinn. “This law ensures that the families of those who have given their lives for our country can grieve without harassment. It is our duty to honor their sacrifice by ensuring they are remembered with the respect and solemnity.”
The new measure, an expansion on the 2006 Let Them Rest in Peace law, prohibits protests within 300 feet of a funeral site and ensures that no protest can take place within 30 minutes before and after a funeral or memorial service.
Arizona and Oklahoma enacted similar laws this year. The measures are model on an Ohio law that was upheld by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2008.
The Supreme Court ruled in a 8 to 1 decision in March that the church’s widely despised protests were protected speech under the First Amendment.
Eric W. Dolan
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