California Gov. Brown signs bill banning protests near funerals

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA (BNO NEWS) — California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday which makes it a crime to protest a funeral unless the protesters are at least 300 feet (91 meters) away, the governor’s office said. The bill is mainly in response to controversial demonstrations by the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church.

Senate Bill 661, written by Democratic State Senator Ted Lieu, creates limitations on speech to protect grieving families from disruptive protests during funerals. The state joins more than 40 other states and the federal government which have already placed similar restrictions on funeral protests and picketing.

“This carefully crafted measure balances the constitutionally protected right of free speech with limited restrictions on the time, place and manner in which protests at funerals can be held,” Lieu said after Brown said the bill. “We’ve all been disgusted by hateful protests at military funerals, and that should now be reduced or stopped.”