Fla. funeral protest ban clears Senate committee

Published On: Feb 19 2013 11:36:17 AM EST
Updated On: Feb 19 2013 03:06:41 PM EST
Wesbtboro Baptist Church protestors
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

Picketing, protesting and other disturbances would be banned at all funerals and burials in Florida under a 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 Tuesday. 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. The church contends 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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