Petition Closed


The Right to Peaceful and Proper Funerals

·         At no time should a protester be allowed on any funeral home property.

·         During escort to burial grounds all United States uniform, and government personnel should be escorted by a minim of three officers all in police vehicles.

·          If protesters want to express their first amendment during the escort to the burial grounds then for the safety for all, protesters should be on the sidewalks of the route to the grave site, but not within a ¼ mile from cemetery property or funeral homes property.

·         At the cemetery ceremonies, 30 minutes before the casket and family departs from funeral home till 30 minutes after the last person leaves the cemetery ceremonies, protesters should be 1,000 feet away from the cemeteries property.

·         At any other services like a memorial service protesters should maintain the ¼ mile distance from the property that the services are being held.

Those who violate these fair distances should be guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction subjected to imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or fined not exceeding $30,000 or both. I feel with my proposed Bill, it allows protesters of any funerals the right to their first amendment in which I have even helped fight for,  as well as the people in mourning the right to mourn properly.

 

Letter to
The President of United States of America
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate
and 4 others
Maryland State House
Maryland State Senate
President of the United States
Maryland Governor
I just signed the following petition addressed to: The President of United States of America.

----------------
To create "The Right to Peaceful and Proper Funerals."

As a Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom I feel that the Bill H.R.3755 – Freedom to Mourn in peace act of 2011 needs to be changed before it becomes passed by the house, senate, or even signed by the president of the United States of America. As a veteran I read these two bills and see the world respect and feel that the two bills still allow disrespect to the fallen veteran’s families. If I would have fallen in combat, I may have never known if protesters showed up to my funeral services. However, I know my family and friends would be disrespected if they saw or heard protesters.
This bill at the time was not nationally recognized nor was successful to stop the disrespect to the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Protesters disrespected the fallen Veterans when they showed up at military funerals in New York, California, and as well as a former President Gerald Ford’s burial in Michigan (Speckman). Theses Members are known to only limit their protesting to Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan war. Members of the church say and post signs that read, “America is Doomed,” “God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11,” and “Thank God for IEDs” (“Supreme Court”). However the federal law only applies to Arlington National Cemetery and cemeteries under the control of the National Cemetery Administration. According to a Department of Veterans Affairs Web site, there are 124 official VA national cemeteries in 39 states, but none in Utah (Speckman). This federal law was passed to bar protesters from coming within 300 feet of the entrance to a national cemetery and within 150 feet of a road into a national cemetery for an hour before and after a military funeral (Speckman). Another problem with the federal law is that there are no restrictions to protesters in common cemeteries. Most Veterans prefer to be buried in common cemeteries where they can be with their families. For example one of my grandfathers, World War II Veteran is buried at Holly Hills in Chase Maryland and to the left of him is my grandmother. My other grandfather, also a World War II Veteran is buried at Gardens of Faith in Rosedale Maryland. Neither cemetery is currently protected.
Currently Bill H.R.3755 – Freedom to mourn in peace act of 2011 has only been introduced and not passed by the house, senate, or even signed by the President of the United States of America. H.R.3755 states that prohibits on demonstrations where a funeral, memorial service, or other bereavement ceremony for a veteran. No person may carry out a demonstration on the property where a funeral for a veteran is held unless the demonstration has been approved by the cemetery. A demonstration during the period beginning 60 minutes before and ending 60 minutes after such funeral, takes place within 150 feet of a road, pathway, or other route of ingress to or egress from such cemetery. Also within 1,000 feet of such cemetery or other property and impedes the access to or egress from such cemetery or other property. Prohibition on demonstrations where a funeral, memorial service, or other bereavement ceremony for a veteran is held.
Many civilians, veterans, and veterans families all feel that both bills are still allowing disrespect to the fallen veteran’s family. The 1,000 feet restriction on an open area like a cemetery is not far enough away from a quite mourning group. The 60 minutes before and after at the distance of 150 feet is also to close for respect because there is nothing stated that they are not allowed to leave their signs. With the Westboro Church Members protesting nationwide at funerals of troops who died in combat, a father of a fallen veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom felt highly disrespected when they protested at his son’s funeral. The protesters showed up with signs which stated “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” Although Mr. Snyder feels that the first amendment is something we should be able to express he felt that Westboro’s protesters on his son’s funeral went too far. Mr. Snyder filed a defamation suit in U.S. District Court in Maryland (Canty). The suit names Fred W. Phelps; Westboro Baptist Church; and others as defendants (Canty). Mr. Snyder was hoping to win enough money away from the Westboro Baptist Church to put an end to the protesting of veteran’s funerals so other families wouldn’t have to go through similar heartache and painful disrespect. When 17-year-old high school senior Zach Parker heard that the Supreme Court had ruled to protect the freedom of speech of the Westboro Baptist Church, he made national headlines when he went public with his proposed legislation, titled the “Respect for Fallen Heroes and Citizens Act of 2010” (Curtis). The proposed bill would ban disruptions at military funerals – and keep picketers 1,000 feet away from the cemetery grounds or entrance road (Curtis). Zach Miller is another person who feels that the first amendment is okay, however not at a soldier’s funeral.
Safety may even become an issue for the families as well as the protesters. There is a biker group who are fully against protesting at veterans funerals. The biker group has given themselves the name Patriot Guard Riders. Patriot Guard Riders has showed up to funerals where the Westboro Group attended funerals to help the families from hearing or seeing the protesters. The Riders gather as many people as they can to make sure they shield the families from picketing signs as well as singing as a large group to drown out the protesters chants. Although the bikers have good intent again as a veteran my family and I would prefer funeral services left to family, friends, and ones who I served in battle with.
For all funerals just not military or veterans I would like for a Bill to be passed in which I would title “The Right to Peaceful and Proper Funerals”. At a funeral home on the days of viewings or services 90 minutes before first viewing of the day to 45 minutes after, protestors are allowed to protest but must be ¼ of a mile away from the property in which has the member you choose to protest. At no time should a protester be allowed on any funeral home property. During escort to burial grounds all United States uniform, and government personnel should be escorted by a minim of three officers all in police vehicles. If protesters want to express their first amendment during the escort to the burial grounds then for the safety for all it should be on the sidewalks of the route to the grave site, but not within a ¼ mile from cemetery property or funeral homes property. At the cemetery ceremonies 30 minutes before the casket and family departs from funeral home till 30 minutes after the last person leaves the cemetery ceremonies protesters should be 1,000 feet away from the cemeteries property. At any other services like a memorial service protesters should maintain the ¼ mile distance from the property that the services are being held. Those who violate these fair distances should be guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction subjected to imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or fined not exceeding $30,000 or both. I feel with my proposed Bill it allows protesters of any funerals the right to their first amendment in which I have even helped fight for as well as the people in mourning the right to mourn properly.

----------------

Sincerely,