The 27th Alaska State Legislature, 2011 - 2012||
Press Release: Joint Veterans Caucus
House Passes Bill Banning Protests at Funerals
|Veterans Caucus Priority, HB 234 Follows Lead of 46 Other States|
Posted: March 6, 2012
Contact: Aaron Schroeder, 465-3732, Veterans Caucus Staff
(Juneau) - Grieving families in Alaska will receive protection from protestors when burying their loved one under a bill passed unanimously by the Alaska House today.
Picketing at funerals has unfortunately become a popular method for protest groups to gain publicity. That's unacceptable.
~ Rep. Bill Thomas
House Bill 234, sponsored by House Finance Committee Co-chair Bill Thomas, brings Alaska in line with 46 other states who regulate where and when protests may occur at funerals. Thomas, the House Chair of the Legislature's Joint Veterans Caucus, said the bill is focused on protecting the families and memories of deceased loved ones and applies to all funerals in the state. The bill is a Veterans Caucus priority.
"The death of a loved one is one of life's most tragic events. It's not a time to have to mix emotions of grief and loss with anger and resentment at those who'd choose to make a supposed political stand or tarnish a dead soldier or American's name," Thomas, R-Haines, said. "Picketing at funerals has unfortunately become a popular method for protest groups to gain publicity. That's unacceptable. We have a duty to protect Alaska's grieving families."
HB 234 would require picketing to occur 150 feet away from the boundary of the cemetery, church or other facility one hour before, during, and after the ceremony.
"It's important that we, as a state, take a stance on this matter," Caucus Senate Co-Chair Charlie Huggins, R-Mat-Su, said. "Picketing at funerals isn't something that only military families have to worry about. Our colleagues across the nation have already voiced their opinion on that matter - we need to do the same."
HB 234 now moves to the Alaska Senate for consideration.