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Posted: 2/10/2006 6:08:51 AM EDT
--Sorry if its a dupe---

Frankfort, KY Members of a Kansas church have worn out their welcomes in the bluegrass state, where legislators have passed bills that would stop them from protesting at funerals. The House, following the lead of the Senate, passed legislation 94-0 that would require protesters to stay at least 300 feet from funerals of soldiers, coal miners and others that might be the focus of pickets by Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan.

Members of the church, largely the extended family of the Rev. Fred Phelps, have been touring the country protesting primarily military funerals, carrying signs that read, "Thank God for IEDs," the improvised explosive devices used by insurgents. Members of the church see the deaths as a sign of God punishing America for tolerating gays. They also went to West Virginia to protest at the funeral of dead coal miners last month. Lawmakers were trying to expedite the bill through the legislature and get it signed into law before an expected protest at a Fort Campbell memorial service on Wednesday.

However, Rep. Mike Weaver, the bill's House sponsor, said it would not affect the memorial service because the post is a federal military installation. Weaver, D-Radcliff, said he is pushing a resolution urging Congress to address the matter at federal locations. The church group has announced it would protest at the funeral of Scott Messer, an Army soldier from Ashland killed in Iraq last week.

The bill would prohibit demonstrators from "making unreasonable noise" or making "any utterance, gesture or display designed to outrage" people attending funerals or memorials services. Violations would be misdemeanors. Gov. Ernie Fletcher's spokeswoman Jodi Whitaker said last week that he also supported the proposal.

Kentucky AP 2/06/2006




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