NC House Bill Increases Criminal Punishment For Funeral Protesters

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The North Carolina House is unanimously backing efforts to increase criminal penalties for people who disrupt a funeral or memorial service in response to an anti-gay Kansas church picketing military funerals nationwide.

The House voted 118-0 on Tuesday for the bill that also would require protesters to stay farther away from mourners and funeral services. The measure now goes to the Senate.

Violating the proposed law would result in a higher grade misdemeanor and a felony on a second offense.

The law is in response to a small Baptist church in Kansas whose members often hold protests at soldiers' funerals, claiming the deaths are God's punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

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