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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bill would make protests during funerals a felony

Monday, October 31, 2005

State Sen. Brent Steele plans to propose a bill that would make disorderly conduct during a military funeral a felony. If passed, the bill would make the offense punishable by a three-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine, if committed at the funeral home, during the procession or at the grave site.

The proposed legislation is in response to a protest held at the Aug. 28 funeral for Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy Doyle, an Indianapolis native killed in Iraq.

"No family should have to go through this at a funeral," Steele said in a press release.

Protesters dragged U.S. flags on the ground and shouted insults at Doyle's family members during his funeral in Martinsville, Ind.

Topeka, Kan., members of the Westboro Baptist Church, lead by the Rev. Fred Phelps are responsible for the protests. According to a press release, Phelps believes that "American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays."

Phelps and his followers go around the country to engage in anti-homosexual protests, which have recently been targeting military funerals.

Susie French of French Funeral Home in Brazil said, "I can't imagine people doing this, and I hope that we (people of Clay County) will never have to endure something like that (protesting at funerals)."

Pastor Jason Selby of the Brazil Calvary Baptist Church believes that "Soldiers are dying in Iraq because they are protecting freedom. They are dying because they are in a war zone and being shot at. That's just common sense."

Selby also thinks that the protesting at funerals is disrespectful and is not the right thing to be doing during a family's time of mourning.

According to the Westboro Baptist Church Web site, the members are planning to picket at three other funerals of militia men killed in Iraq during this week alone.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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