An official with a coalition of Kentucky veterans groups has asked state lawmakers if something more can be done to keep protesters farther away from military funerals. Dave Jarrett made the appeal recently to a legislative Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs. Jarrett is chairman of the Joint Executive Council of Veterans. He says he realizes free speech must be protected, but the funeral of a soldier is a solemn occasion.
“The last thing we need-and we have had it-of these folks that want to destroy that ceremony, coming in, the signs, yelling. We would like to take a look and see if we could broaden the distances where we would allow folks to do those demonstrations,” he said.
Leaders of the Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church promised in March to “quadruple” protests at military funerals following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said the demonstrations are protected under the first amendment.
The group is known for picketing military funerals. It claims U.S. combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality.