Md. Lawmakers Propose Bills To Curb Funeral Protests

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Stopping protests at funerals. The Supreme Court allows them. Now Maryland lawmakers are stepping in.

Kelly McPherson explains this all centers on the protest of a Maryland Marine’s funeral.

A Supreme Court decision allowing the Westboro Church to protest at funerals in the name of free speech is not the end of the debate.

The latest effort to curb the group’s right to protest is coming from Annapolis. Two bills would increase the buffer zone between the funeral and the protesters from 100 feet to 500 or even 1,000 feet.

“Let them have their free speech, but keep them away from the people who are grieving.  Just the signs they put up are inhumane,” said Senator Bryan Simonaire, (R) Anne Arundel.

Maryland Marine Matthew Snyder died in combat, and the small church showed up at his funeral, spewing hate for gays. His father supports these bills.

“My son and hundreds of others of men and women have died to protect freedom of speech,” said Al Snyder, “And to have a group of 80 people degrade it and mock it is disgusting.”

“I have not run into anybody who is in opposition to this, other than the ACLU who testified against it,” Simonaire said.

The ACLU says other laws restricting protesters have been ruled unconstitutional, including one that intended to keep pro-life activists 15 feet away from abortion clinics.

But those pushing for the bigger buffer zones say the current law of 100 feet is not good enough.

“And it’s very close.  It’s very close.  And I kept thinking if I were mourning a family member and someone had a sign that said, ‘God bless dead soldiers’ or something like that, I’d be offended,” said Sen. Lisa Gladden, (D) Baltimore City.

U.S. Representative Dutch Ruppersburger has offered an even more extreme bill at the federal level that increases the buffer zone to 2,500 feet and prevents protests for several hours before and after a funeral.

There are two versions of this bill that will have to be consolidated before both houses can pass the legislation.

Comments

One Comment

  1. James J. Bilenki Jr. (USN. RET.) says:

    My Fellow Patriotic Marylanders,

    I totally agree with Mr. Ruppersburger’s idea of a 2500 foot (or more) buffer zone from the Patrotic family members laying to rest one of their own and the very obscene, hurtful people who mistakenly call themselves Christians. There’s a special place in Hell for these un-Godly people. They should have to experience the sorrow, grief, pain and hurt that the families of our lost service men and women feel. “God Bless OUR AMERICA!”

    “Hate War! Love the Warrior!”

    J.J.B.Jr.(USN.RET.)
    Pasadena, Md.

    1. 25 yr VET (USA. ret) says:

      You got that right

      1. T says:

        Thank you both for serving.

    2. Araminta says:

      Mr. Bilenki,
      Don’t forget that Al Snyder is going to have to pay a whole lot of money to these social misfits. Consider visiting the http://www.matthewsnyder.com web site to see how you can help get him out from under all of it. You may also follow this on facebook at: United Support for Al Snyder and Against Military Funeral Protests.

  2. barry soetoro says:

    I do not agree with the protesters and I actually believe that they are hired by our own government to destroy the first amendment,but I will fight to the death for their right to protest as long as they are not blocking traffic or buisness.this is the federal governments new plan to ban protests unless you have a permit.when you dont let people peacefully protest you make violent opposition unavoidable.the white house science czar cass sunstein is now saying to arrest protesters that do not beleive in global warming or totaly support the federal governments view.we are entering a dangerous period the obama administration and the atf also recently got busted giving guns to the mexican drug cartels to blame our second amendment.this is a act of terrorism by the atf and obama administration and is high treason.we need to hold these criminals accountable for their crimes.

    1. shirley says:

      u can tell a teabagger fox troll. thought md was beyond this. where were u doing bush admin usurping rights with patriot’s act. noody gives a damn if u people have guis maybe u’ll all shoot yourselves and leave peace loving people alone. if u had a relattive who had died in thse stupid wars you should be allowed to grieve in peace. i don’t view these protesters as stupid i view people who are dumb enough to go and fight the white man’s war as stupid. thank goodness america is coming to it’s senses and seeing what rethug taliban is really up to

      1. whatnow says:

        what drug did you use before you posted.

      2. Kova says:

        the white man’s war? you must be an idiot.

        The soldiers are fighting for the good of America. Do you understand that the haji want all Americans dead, just because we are American? That means you. If they could, theyd put a bullet in your head; of course, after torturing you. Yes, war is a terrible thing, but the men and women fighting to END it are to be respected and held in esteem.

        Shame to anyone who disrespects a soldier and their selfless efforts.

  3. Raymond says:

    They should tax the protesters…

    1. sven says:

      @ Kova, did you ever stop and think why the Haji want Americans dead? Maybe if we’d stay the Fcuk out of everyone business we wouldn’t be the most hated country in the world.

  4. Doug says:

    I hope someone grabs their hateful signs and beats the Westboro loonies over their piny sculls with them.
    They should be rounded up and castrated .
    I want our boys from Aberdeen to show up,form a human chain and
    push the morons into the highway.

    1. sven says:

      These bigots know the law and their rights. The first thing they do is to inform the local PD of their plans and demand protection or they sue the police.

      One day they will get there comeuppance. Karma.

  5. Baltimorebob says:

    THEY ARE TRULY ASSSSS FOUR WHAT THEY DO I SAY THEY SHOULD BE KICKED OUT OF THE U.S.A. THEY DO NOT BELONG HEAR HOW DARE THEM TO SHOW UP AT A GRAVE TO DO WHAT THEY DO I SAY THE HELL WITH THEM !!!!!!!

  6. PAUL E. MICELLI says:

    WHEN A NATION ALLOWS ITS HONORED DEAD TO BE DISGRACED LIKE THIS SHOULD HANG IT’S HEAD IN SHAME. THIS COUNTRY IS GOING THE WAY OF THE OLD ROMAN EMPIRE, NO GREAT ARMY CAN DEFEAT IT, BUT IT WILL DECAY FROM WITHIN LIKE WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW!

  7. Cathy says:

    I for one believe in freedom of speech,but there is a place for everthing,not at a church for any reason much less a funeral for a service man who died for their freedom and they have the guts to protest against that, whether he or she be gay,white black,korean,etc,let one of them go over there and do that.

  8. Leah C says:

    I still like my idea that I posted last week of making the protesters stand in hell with their signs. That’d be a far enough distance away for me.

    And this has nothing to do with religion. I’m Jewish, and I think this “church” is just full of misguided people and lead by a bad man who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “compassion”. The sickening part is that they get so much press over their nonsense.

  9. Cheryl Sherpinski says:

    Why don’t the families sue Westboro church for emotional trauma, mental abuse, psychological trauma, etc; I’m sure the children, and family members can claim emotional distress and have the ‘Church’ pay for psychological treatment for years.
    The bonus is with no money they can’t travel or pay others to show up at funerals.
    I hope King David from the OT greets them on Judgment Day and Michael, the archangel; they were both warriors and would take great pleasure in kicking their butts all the way to HELL!!!

  10. Ginni says:

    I have two words to say about this protesting at funerals
    Disgusting….. Evil…..
    May God Bless those family members and friends of the deceased, loved one.
    As Jesus said forgive them Father for they not know what they are doing..A true Christian would never participate in this type of unethical, Morality behavior.. Protesting at anyones funeral should not be allowed in any state..

  11. Jess says:

    I think that allowing these protests to take place in a surrounding in which a group of individuals are grieving and in a sense, emotionally unstable during the grieving process, it opens a big opportunity for people on either side to get hurt. Death is something we all have in common despite our political views and should be given some level of protection over political views which may or may not be shared by all involved. These things should be taken up at the government footsteps or at the voting polls. Targeting citizens is not a constitutional right. It IS our constitutional right to express our political views towards the government.

  12. Doug says:

    I say we hire Hell’s Angel’s
    to take care of them.

  13. Tess Gribbin says:

    That makes me sick. I can not believe that people would hold sings like that. Their unfeeling for the people who gave them that right is inconceivable. My heart goes out to anyone who has come face to face with that kind of blatant disrespect for the brave men and women in the military and their familys. My brother served in our military and it angers me to know that this is how people repay him for his service to our nation.

  14. Sandra L. Spriggs says:

    The protestors should be arrested & fined for disturbing the privacy of a grieving family. Its disgraceful, disgusting, and an insult to every person in this country to allow this to continue. I’m ashamed that its allowed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From CBS Baltimore

Track Weather On The Go With Our App!
Your Podcast Network Play.it

Listen Live