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Bill advances to ban picketing near military funerals

January 26, 2012 | 10:25 am

GetprevProtesters would be prohibited from disruptive demonstrations within 500 feet of funerals under legislation approved Thursday by the state Senate.

SB 661 was introduced in response to demonstrations at military funerals by a religious group that claims war deaths are punishment for the country's tolerance of homosexuality. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the group has a 1st Amendment right to demonstrate.

“We’ve all seen hateful protests at military funerals,” said Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), who introduced the bill.  “Protesters should not be able to disrupt actual funeral services.”

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill in November that created a 1,000-foot buffer, saying that he found picketing at military funerals "offensive," but that the courts have determined that it is a right of free speech.

Lieu said his new bill narrows the area where demonstrations are banned. "We are accommodating his concerns" Lieu said of the governor. The measure was approved by a 38-0 vote and sent to the Assembly for consideration.


The veto pen of Gov. Jerry Brown

Legislature seek limits to picketing at military funerals

-- Patrick McGreevy, reporting from Sacramento.

Photo: State Sen. Ted Lieu wants to prohibit disruptive picketing at military funerals. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press