As the family of Lance Cpl. Brandon Webb prepares to bury him, an incendiary group that pickets military funerals is planning to protest in spite of recently passed legislation banning demonstrations at military funerals.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm joined several other states in May when she signed a law making it a felony to display disorderly conduct within 500 feet of a funeral.
A week after Granholm signed Michigan’s law, President Bush signed a law that prohibits a person from demonstrating at national cemeteries unless previously approved. Michigan’s law becomes effective Aug. 22.
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This window gives Westboro Baptist Church, known for its slogans against homosexuality, the opportunity to avoid sanctions and picket the funeral of Webb, 20, a Flint-area Marine who was killed in Iraq on June 20.
Westboro, headed by Fred Phelps, has been picketing military funerals with the message that God is killing American troops to retaliate against gays and lesbians.
Phelps gained attention when he picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepherd, a gay Wyoming college student.Webb’s family could not be reached for comment.
Michigan’s law may face a challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The First Amendment gives people a right, but I think this crosses line,” said state Sen. Laura Toy, R-Livonia, one of the bill’s sponsors. “It’s deplorable.”