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US House votes to restrict demonstrations at military funerals

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives Tuesday approved a bill limiting protests during military funerals. The Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act [text] is aimed mainly at the renegade Westboro Baptist Church [WARNING: readers may find material at this church website offensive; Wikipedia backgrounder] led by the Rev. Fred Phelps in Topeka, Kansas. The group claims US soldiers have been killed because America tolerates homosexuals. The bill seeks to block unapproved protests at Arlington National Cemetery [official website] and other federal cemeteries. It also creates a 500-foot no-protestor zone around military funerals that begins one hour before a funeral and ends one hour after its conclusion if protests include loud disturbances.

Similar legislation has been passed or proposed in states such as South Dakota [JURIST report] and Oklahoma [text, RTF] and the federal legislation urges more states to pass such measures. The House measure must still be approved by the Senate. AP has more.

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