Congress Restricts Protests at Military Funerals
Last year, I introduced new legislation to prevent protests during military funerals. The bill, called the “Safe Haven for Heroes Act,” responded to offensive anti-gay protests at the funerals of fallen troops, including Maryland native Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder. Matthew was killed in a vehicle accident in Iraq when he was just 20 years old.
I have great news. This week, with the help of my vote, Congress passed legislation remarkably similar to the “Safe Haven for Heroes Act.” Once this bill is signed into law by the President, groups like the Westboro Baptist Church will no longer be able to picket military funerals two hours before or two hours after the service. They will also have to be at least 300 feet away from grieving family members. You can learn more about the bill here.
Westboro has picketed nearly 600 military funerals over the past two decades, frequently using signs bearing statements such as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” While I respect the right to free speech, I believe demonstrators should be able to express their opinions without inflicting incalculable harm on the grieving families of our troops. Like my bill, this legislation simply places reasonable and constitutional restrictions on the time, place and manner of protest activities.
With this bill, all military families will be able to bury their loved ones with the peace and dignity they deserve.