Fla. ban on funeral protests is expanded

Published On: Mar 27 2013 04:53:57 PM EDT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

The Florida Legislature has approved a bill that would expand a current ban on protesting to all types of funerals.

The Senate on Wednesday passed the "Funeral Buffer" bill (HB 15) by a vote of 38-0. The House approved it on March 13. It next goes to Gov. Rick Scott to sign into law.

The legislation mostly is a response to military funeral protests by a Kansas-based church.

The Westboro Baptist Church congregation claims God is punishing the United States for tolerating homosexuality. Protesters often carry signs saying "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."

The bill prohibits protesting or picketing within 500 feet of any funeral or burial. The proposed law would apply from one hour before to one hour after the ceremony. A violation is a first-degree misdemeanor.

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