New laws putting limits on funeral protests

Associated Press/September 26, 2011

Albany, New York -- New limits are coming for protests at military funerals in New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed two new related laws. One will triple the buffer zone for protests around religious services, funerals, burials or memorial services from 100 to 300 feet. It takes effect next March.

Another authorizes the state and municipalities to establish 1,000-foot zones around funeral events on public land, require permits for related demonstrations and impose fines for failure to comply. It takes effect in November.

Sponsors say the measures balance demonstrators' rights to free speech with families' ability to mourn without additional distress.

Members of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., have protested at many military funerals across the country, saying U.S. troop deaths are punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

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