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Funeral Protest Bill Sent to Oregon GovernorSalem-News.com
Tuesday, the House approved the bill on a 59-1 vote.
(SALEM LID) - The Oregon Legislature this week sent Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) that would increase penalties for disorderly conduct within 200 feet of a funeral.
Senate Bill 1575 calls for a maximum penalty for the Class A misdemeanor of one year in jail and a $6,250 fine, up significantly from six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) and a handful of House members, S.B. 1575 was approved handily in both legislative chambers with bipartisan support.
On Tuesday, the House approved the bill on a 59-1 vote. The Senate passed the legislation 29-0 on Feb. 13.
S.B. 1575 stems from the often provocative anti-gay demonstrations by the Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church, known for dispatching its few congregants to protest at the funerals of fallen soldiers.
The church’s leader, the Rev. Fred Phelps, has said that his flock believes military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan were God’s punishment for the nation’s tolerance of gay rights.
In March 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision, held that the Westboro Baptist Church was within its First Amendment rights to protest at military funerals. (Snyder v. Phelps et al, No. 09-751).
In April 2004, church members picketed the Oregon Supreme Court building while the justices were considering the validity of some 3,000 Multnomah County-issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Then, in August 2006, the church demonstrated outside the funeral service in Hood River, Ore., for Petty Officer Marc Lee, 28, the first Navy SEAL killed in the Iraq war.
A 2009 federal law, the Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act (Pub. L. 109-228), prohibits protests within 300 feet of the entrance of any cemetery, from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after a funeral, at the 130 cemeteries run by the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.
Violations of the law are punishable by one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
The text of Senate Bill 1575 is available at http://www.
Special thanks to Law & Industry Daily
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