Friday, June 02, 2006

Update: Legislation on Military Funeral Protests, Fred Phelps, and the Patriot Guard Riders.

As I noted recently, among the most often viewed and searched for articles here at Kierkegaard Lives are the posts about Fred Phelps and his "church" protesting at military funerals and the Patriot Guard's "counter-protest" and attendance at these funerals.

Prior Kierkegaard Lives Posts on this subject:
Update: Military Funeral Protests, Fred Phelps, Patriot Guard Riders (May 10, 2006)
Patriot Guard Bikers vs. Fred Phelps (February 22, 2006)

In my last post on the subject, I noted that

According to Jurist, the U.S. House of Representatives [had] passed a bill that is titled "The Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act." The bill seeks to block unapproved protests at Arlington National Cemetery and other federal cemeteries and creates a 500-foot no-protestor zone around military funerals. Apparently, similar legislation has been passed or proposed in states such as South Dakota and Oklahoma.


On May 25, 2006, the Senate passed a similar bill. And on May 30, President Bush also signed the Act into law.

According to CNN.com:

Demonstrators would be barred from disrupting military funerals at national cemeteries under legislation approved by Congress and sent to the White House.

The measure, passed by voice vote in the House Wednesday hours after the Senate passed an amended version, specifically targets a Kansas church group that has staged protests at military funerals around the country, claiming that the deaths were a sign of God's anger at U.S. tolerance of homosexuals.


Additionally,

In an interview when the House bill passed, Phelps said Congress was "blatantly violating the First Amendment" rights to free speech in passing the bill. He said that if the bill becomes law he will continue to demonstrate but would abide by the restrictions.

Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas, said the loved ones of those who die have already sacrificed for the nation and "we must allow them the right to mourn without being thrust into a political circus."

In response to the demonstrations, the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group including many veterans, has begun appearing at military funerals to pay respects to the fallen service member and protect the family from disruptions.

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