KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Missouri City Council approved a new ordinance on Thursday intended to curb picketers at funerals.
The new ordinance, which is similar to one that was repealed four years ago due to concerns about its constitutionality, would require funeral protesters to stay at least 300 feet from any funeral, and would restrict the protests to one hour before and after a funeral.
The ordinance is aimed primarily at the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church, which has become notorious for picketing the funerals of fallen service members – which they claim to be God’s retribution for America’s acceptance of homosexuality.
“I know that we’re going to do what we can legally in order to provide a safe haven for people in these circumstances, and hopefully other cities will and I think frankly other cities have started,” said Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James.
The ordinance is nearly identical to one in Manchester, Missouri, recently ruled to be constitutional by a U.S. Court of Appeals. Kansas City had originally passed an anti-funeral protest ordinance nearly 20 years ago, but was repealed over concerns about its legality.
“”The court cases to that point had indicated that this was a violation of free speech and if they sued us, we would lose and have to pay damages,” said the new ordinance’s sponsor, Councilman Ed Ford.
The new ordinance will take effect in 10 days.