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North Carolina

Westboro funeral protests trigger new penalties backed by N.C. House

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina state House is unanimously backing efforts to increase criminal penalties for people who disrupt a funeral or memorial service in response to an anti-gay Kansas church picketing military funerals nationwide.

The House voted 118-0 on Tuesday in favor of a bill that would require protesters to stay farther away from mourners and funeral services. The measure now goes to the Senate.

Violating the proposed law would result in a higher grade misdemeanor and a felony on a second offense.

The law is in response to antics by the Westboro Baptist, home of anti-gay extremists and the “Gods Hate Fags” fundamentalist movement, whose members often hold protests at soldiers’ funerals, claiming the deaths are God’s punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

Based in Topeka, Kan., the Westboro church is not affiliated with the Baptist denomination or any other Baptist church. According to news reports, almost all of its members — fewer than 100 — are related to founder Fred Phelps either by blood or marriage.

The hate group is best known for its protest of the funerals of U.S. service members, and first came into the national spotlight in 1998, when it picketed at the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay man who was brutally attacked on the night of October 6, 1998, then tied to a fence and left to die.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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21 more reader comments:

  1. absolutely disgusting.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 2:19pm
  2. disgusting!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 2:20pm
  3. yes, they ARE disgusting, but this is good news!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 2:21pm
  4. that should be banned from the U.S.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 2:22pm
  5. FINALLY!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 2:24pm
  6. Locked em all up in a dungeon

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 2:25pm
  7. os invitamos a nuestra pagina!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 2:25pm
  8. Good. People are so sick. I should go picket at one of their funerals and see how they like it smh.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 2:25pm
  9. Westboro can go to hell as far as I’m concerned. That’s the only place they belong!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 2:26pm
  10. why they think they act like christ when they are hypocrites and pharisees

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 2:34pm
  11. Then one of the Phelps turns out to be gay. https://twitter.com/WBCZach

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 2:35pm
  12. Fucking wankers! They need ppl to picket their events so they can see how it feels!!! :@

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 2:35pm
  13. those assholes at the westboro baptest church need to do something they have NEVER done before — SHUT THE FUCK UP FOR ONCE!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 3:46pm
  14. Westboro protest for no reason cause they want attention…

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 8:01pm
  15. About time!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 8:03pm
  16. NC should make it so those a**holes are in prison. No funeral for any reason should be disrupted. It is rude and disrespectful to the friends and family of the deceased.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 8:04pm
  17. How are they even called a Christian?

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 8:04pm
  18. @Vickay I am not sure they can be. With them as examples of Christianity, no one would want to be a Christian. A true Christian is filled with love, faith, kindness

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 8:07pm
  19. Ugh, they are a horrible CULT and a STAIN on humanity. I’m not even Christian, but I know for certain that these fools are only damaging the (real/good) Christian’s (desired) message even more!!! It’s obvious that they are a hate-group and that a large majority of people think that they are wacko…. so WHY must they continue with this meaningless propaganda??? But I’m glad that someone is taking action against this.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 8:24pm
  20. Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 8:54pm
  21. I know there’s this whole freedom of speech thing that they are allowed, but why the hell aren’t they arrested for disturbing the peace. Our lawmakers are defending them, by not making this funeral protest illegal.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 9:02pm