Free Speech
5:34 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Oregon Lawmakers Stiffen Penalties For Funeral Misconduct

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers are trying to crack down on bad behavior at funerals. The state House voted Tuesday to increase the penalty to up to a year in jail for disorderly conduct within 200 feet of a funeral service.

The measure comes in response to a small Kansas church group that has picketed at funerals of military members and others across the nation. The group has had a minimal presence in Oregon, but Republican state representative Jim Weidner says the law will give grieving families peace of mind.

"This bill will protect and acknowledge the solemn rights of families and friends to hold services for their loved ones without the hindrance from outside agitators," Weidner says.

The measure passed both chambers with broad support and now heads to the governor's desk.

An attempt to limit protests at funerals failed last year amid concerns that it placed limits on free speech. Backers of this year's bill addressed those concerns by focusing the measure on the behavior of protesters, not the content of their message.

On the Web:

SB 1575 - Funeral misconduct bill:
http://www.leg.state.or.us/12reg/measpdf/sb1500.dir/sb1575.intro.pdf

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

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