SPRINGFIELD — Legislation sponsored by State Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton, to help preserve the dignity of military funerals passed the house by an overwhelming margin on Tuesday, March 17.
“The Westboro Baptist Church and other hateful extremist groups have gained notoriety by disrupting the funerals of fallen American heroes,” Beiser said. “This measure will help put a stop to their actions by making it more difficult to intrude during memorial services.”
House Bill 1404 strengthens laws that ban disorderly conduct at the funerals and memorial services of soldiers. Disorderly conduct can include: making disruptive noises, such as yelling, singing or chanting; displaying threatening visual images or words; and preventing another person’s entry or exit to a funeral site.
Under current law, protesters must be at least 300 feet from a funeral site and are prohibited from demonstrating during a service, and for 30 minutes prior to and 30 minutes after a memorial concludes. Beiser’s bill would extend the prohibited distance to 1,000 feet and the time that protests are banned to one hour before and one hour after a ceremony.
“The family and friends of fallen veterans deserve the opportunity to mourn without added pain,” Beiser added. “This is a small but important way that we can acknowledge their loss and the heroic service of their departed loved one.”
House Bill 1404 passed the House of Representatives and will move to the Senate for further consideration. For information, contact Beiser’s constituent service office at (618) 465-5900.