New Protest Limits Affect Westboro Baptist Church’s Picketing in Missouri

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Westboro Baptist Church hate sign

Missouri’s Webster Grove City Council passed a city ordinance on March 5 that may have been taking aim at the prolifically anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church. The ordinance, which passed on a 7-0 vote, bans picketing within 300 feet of a funeral or burial service before, during or after the service.

The St. Louis suburb follows other Missouri cities in its restricting of funeral protests. The city of Manchester had its ordinance upheld by a Federal Court of Appeals after WBC challenged it saying it was unconstitutional. The ruling spurred the cities of Clayton and Creve Coeur to pass their own similar city ordinances.

In August of last year, President Obama signed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 into law. The act gives new restrictions on the protesting of service members’ funerals. Under this act, protests must be held at least 300 feet from military funerals and are prohibited two hours before or after a service.

Westboro’s protests have been met with increasing anger and counter protests. Most recently, a group of motorcyclist showed up at the funeral of Newtown, Connecticut shooting victim Dawn Hochsprung to block the protest of the church. WBC was in the area, but never showed up.