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Honoring America's Veterans Act

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Honoring America's Veterans Act Signed By Obama, Restricting Westboro Military Funeral Protests

President Barack Obama signed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 into law on Monday, providing a wide-ranging package of benefits to military personnel and enacting new restrictions on protests of service member funerals.

"We have a moral sacred duty to our men and women in uniform," Obama said before signing the bill, according to a pool report. "The graves of our veterans are hallowed grounds."

The new law will have strong implications for the Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas-based organization which the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have labeled a hate group. Westboro Baptist Church has drawn media attention for its brand of protest, which frequently links the deaths of soldiers to America's growing acceptance of gays.

Under the new legislation, protests must be held at least 300 feet from military funerals and are prohibited two hours before or after a service. The law counters a 2011 Supreme Court ruling, which found that displays such as Westboro's were protected under the First Amendment.

Members of the church responded defiantly to a Huffington Post report following Congress' passage of the bill, claiming that the law's restrictions could also have an effect on counter-demonstrations organized in response to Westboro's attempts to disrupt military services.

Two of these counter-efforts drew national attention last month, when large groups of people turned out in both Missouri and in Texas in an attempt to create "human walls" to shield attendees of military funerals from Westboro's demonstrations.

In an interview over the weekend, Westboro spokesman Steven Drain told CNN that the new law was "not going to change our plans at all."

According to the Army Times, future violations of The Honoring America’s Veterans Act would include the possibility of $50,000 in statutory damages.

Luckily you can still protest homosexual and AIDS related funerals. I hope this bill opens the door so they can ban business protesting. Stupid commie unions.

We'll see what the courts will decide. I feel the ACLU will jump in on this first.

Gotta love election years.

EDIT: More details of said act can be found here.

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What kind of word is "HAVCCLF"?

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"The new law will have strong implications for the Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas-based organization which the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have labeled a hate group."

Typical election year nonsense. Obama's using a pile driver to crack a walnut.

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GreyGhost said:

Typical election year nonsense. Obama's using a pile driver to crack a walnut.

yeah heh, gassing the westboro baptists in their sleep would be much cheaper and more effective.

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I wish groups like Westboro would fuck off and die, but I still accept that they have a right to say whatever they want to say, no matter how abhorrent. Especially as they live in a country with the First Amendment and all that.

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I'm actually in favor. I don't believe rights are being lost here because I don't believe someone's funeral should have ever been classified as a public event in the first place.

You only get one chance to say goodbye to your loved ones. That some hateful bigoted idiots can come and disrupt that with their lunatic ravings is ridiculous.

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Aliotroph? said:

Let's all honour our veterans by taking away the rights they died defending!

The right to yell obscenities at military funerals from less than 300 feet?

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"Soldiers, if you are going to fight and possibly die in a faraway foreign land where everybody hates you because of a conflict that has lasted for longer than both World Wars together and isn't looking like it'd ever be won, it isn't for nothing, no. It is for great and sacred principles, such as the inalienable rights of superstitious obscurantists to insult you and your family during your funerals. This right is what makes America the beacon of freedom and civilization that the entire world admires and envies. Good luck, and may your eulogy be made by a shouting bigot claiming your death was God's punishment for our tolerance of homosexuals."

Truly a rousing speech for our troops.

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DoomUK said:

I wish groups like Westboro would fuck off and die, but I still accept that they have a right to say whatever they want to say, no matter how abhorrent. Especially as they live in a country with the First Amendment and all that.

With rights come responsibilities. Just because you can say something, it doesn't mean that you should.

Is the right to say whatever the fuck you want more important than the right to say goodbye to your loved ones without some bigoted freakshow yelling that your dearly departed is going to hell for supporting a "fag enabling nation" as you commit his/her body to the soil? The family(+friends etc) have their rights too and I would suggest that being protected from a bunch of hate-filled lunatics as they grieve and while they are at their most raw and emotionally vulnerable comes well within what most people would consider their basic human rights and should have a higher priority than the Phelps family freakshow.

The Phelps mutant crew aren't being prevented from saying what they want. They are just being prevented from saying it at a time and place that would trample over other peoples' rights.

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Enjay said:

The Phelps mutant crew aren't being prevented from saying what they want. They are just being prevented from saying it at a time and place that would trample over other peoples' rights.

Ideally what they're saying shouldn't be said by anyone at all, I can't see how there could be an "appropriate" time or place for it. But I'll concede that the steps being taken at least give people some emotional breathing space from their vicious hate speech.

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DoomUK said:

Ideally what they're saying shouldn't be said by anyone at all, I can't see how there could be an "appropriate" time or place for it.

I agree that they shouldn't be saying it and that what they say, by my judgement, isn't actually appropriate at any time. However, they do have a right to say it (even if by doing so they show themselves to be the vile, misguided, hate-filled, freakazoid, mutants that they are) and I guess that there has to be somewhere and some time that they are able to do it. At a funeral is neither that place nor that time and if their message at any other time is shown to cause undue stress and discomfort to others, then that should also be part of the consideration. In short, it is correct to call them a hate group and they should be treated as such.

I'd like to think that the WBC will just fizzle and die when Fred Phelps finally dies but I suspect that his rabid daughter (Shirley Phelps-Roper) and other associated freaks will continue his disgusting legacy.

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Quasar said:

I'm actually in favor. I don't believe rights are being lost here because I don't believe someone's funeral should have ever been classified as a public event in the first place.

You only get one chance to say goodbye to your loved ones. That some hateful bigoted idiots can come and disrupt that with their lunatic ravings is ridiculous.

Pretty much this. There was a funeral in Columbia, MO recently that became quite the spectacle as a direct result of the WBC and a massive counter-protest. I was a friend of the deceased's family, and seeing all of those people there made some of them rather uncomfortable. Things like this should not happen.

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WBC loves to sling their proverbial shit everywhere, and up into people's mouths at the worst and most inappropriate of times.

They are the kind of people you silently wish would natural select'd; too bad it hasn't happened yet.

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The sick part of this law is it prohibits protests only at military funerals? Why should they get more rights than anyone else? If you're going to stop protests at funerals do it equally.

But I won't support such a broad law in any circumstances. There are likely many cases where funerals, military or otherwise, do deserve protest and giving the government more ability to tell people when they can't protest just opens more possibility for abuse. Abuse by large powers is worse than ranting hate groups.

As for the WBC, I'd say we should use them for medical experiments, but they're probably far too inbred for that.

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