You Can Thank Anti-Gay Protests For First Amendment Infringement

Military casket

Looks like Washington is dead set on classifying a protest a military funeral as a crime. The bill, which just was approved by the Senate and passed through the House in similar form, bars demonstrations within 300 feet of a cemetery entrance and within 150 feet of a road into the cemetery. The rules go into effect one hour before the funeral and continue one hour afterward, with violators facing possible punishment of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

So why should Queerty readers care? Because of the catalyst for the bill: a Kansas church group that targeted military funerals around the country, claiming the uniformed deaths were retaliation from God for America’s tolerance of gay men and women. Oh, and then there’s the obvious infringement on your First Amendment rights.

On one hand, we’ve got a measure to keep zealots from placing blame on the gay community and needlessly disrupting a time of mourning for a fallen soldier’s family. On the other hand, limiting anyone’s right to free speech for any reason is grounds for concern. This situation isn’t a matter of national security — it’s a means to guarantee a family’s peaceful saying goodbye. But is that a privilege, or a right we should instate by law? And where is the line drawn for keeping protestors away for any reason?

Senate Passes Measure Limiting Funeral Protests [AP]