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Lawmakers Push Ahead With Anti-Funeral Picketing Bill

Chris Lehman


SALEM, Ore. - Oregon lawmakers are pressing ahead with an effort to restrict picketing at funerals. It comes as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Kansas group that's known for spreading anti-gay messages at funerals. The Oregon measure is up for a hearing Thursday.


The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling only addressed whether the picketers from Westboro Baptist Church could be sued for emotional distress. The high court did not weigh in on the Constitutionality of so-called buffer zones, which are in place in 44 states.

More than half of the Oregon House has signed onto a bill that would make Oregon the 45th state with a buffer zone. In Oregon's case it would force picketers at funerals to be at least a football field's distance away from the property where the funeral is taking place.

Republican Representative Patrick Sheehan is one of the chief co-sponsors. He says that while the restriction would apply to any picketer, it's aimed squarely at the members of the Kansas group.

Patrick Sheehan: "They have a very vile, hateful message. It's anti-gay, anti-Catholic, anti-American, frankly."

The ACLU of Oregon opposes the bill. The organization believes the measure would violate the free expression rights granted by the Oregon state Constitution.

On the Web:

Oregon House Bill 3241:

Supreme Court Opinion: Snyder v Phelps:

A Peek Inside The Westboro Baptist Church:

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network