Ohio limits homophobic funeral protests
The Ohio House has unanimously approved a bill which will ensure groups who protest at funerals blaming America’s gay laws will have to be at least 300 feet away from mourners.
It will mainly affect the Westboro Baptist church who run a website called GodHatesFags have protested at over 100 funerals of soldiers killed in the line of duty in Iraq.
Their campaign, called “Thank God for Improvised Explosive Devices” involves protesters holding up signs and chanting slogans such as “God Hates Fags,” “America is Doomed” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” at the widows of the servicemen.
Democrat representative, Dan Stewart said: “It was a little disconcerting to see people standing on the American flag and holding signs that say, ‘Thank God for dead U.S. soldiers,’ … but I’ll defend their right to say it.
“But not in the face of the families grieving their loved ones.”
If passed, the law would limit protest to an hour before and after the service.
“The irony of this situation is that they are protesting the lives of soldiers who have arguably defended their right of freedom of speech on the battlefield,” said John Boccieri, who sponsored the bill.
Ohio joins twenty nine other states considering a similar law.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which usually supports gay issues, is arguing that these laws unfairly restrict free speech.