A bill aimed at keeping protesters out of the line of sight at military funerals has cleared a state senate committee. Senator Keith Kreiman, a Democrat from Bloomfield, says it’s in response to a Kansas minister who has threatened to picket at the funerals of American soldiers in protest of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it comes to gays. “Some groups have shown a lot of disrespect towards the veteran and the veteran’s family and has caused quite a disturbance,” Kreiman says. “We want to eliminate that.”

The bill says protests may not be staged within 350 feet of a funeral or burial.
“I’ve heard that it has happened, that there were plans to continue those types of protests,” Kreiman says. “People have a right to protest…but they don’t have to do it right on the grounds. They don’t have to do it where they’re going to upset the families.”

Reverend Fred Phelps of Westboro, Kansas contends that American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as God’s vengeance on the soldiers for serving in a military that harbors gays. Phelps threatened to protest at soldiers’ funerals in Fort Dodge and Dubuque in mid-January, but did not show up. Kreiman says it’s inappropriate to try to disrupt a funeral to try to make a political point. “If I were a member of the serviceperson’s family and there was behavior like that, I would be very, very aggravated and upset,” Kreiman says.