Senator Fasano Proposes Legislation To Keep Protesters At Respectful Distance During Military Funerals

February 20, 2007

Senator Len Fasano, R-North Haven, is proposing legislation that would require protesters to stay a respectful distance from military funerals, burials or memorial services.

“The respect that every single person is entitled to at his, or her, own funeral is at least equal to anyone else’s right to protest. I believe that most of us agree that grieving families and friends have the right to conduct and attend the funerals of their loved ones in peace. And, I believe that most of us can agree that the friends and families of our soldiers deserve an extra measure of respect at such a time – and that an extra measure of respect for our fallen solders’ friends and families is owed by all of us, regardless of our personal feelings about the war, or about any other issue that might be the subject of a protest,” said Senator Fasano.

Senator Fasano, ranking member of the Select Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said he proposed his legislation in response to media reports and stories shared with him by constituents of protestors showing up at military funerals. He pointed out that there is already a federal law in place banning protests at military funerals and memorial services at Arlington National Cemetery and at cemeteries controlled by the National Cemetery Administration.

“Frankly, I am appalled and saddened that we have to pass a law to tell people that they cannot use the funerals of our fallen solders as a stage for their protests. Imagine a mother, a wife, a child having to walk past a gauntlet of sign waving, yelling, people to get to the funeral of a loved one who died fighting to protect these protesters’ constitutional right to freedom of speech. Regardless of the issue, regardless of the protestors’ feelings about the war, how can someone be so disrespectful, so unfeeling for someone else’s pain, as to make a mockery of a funeral,” said Senator Fasano.

Senator Fasano’s bill calls for prohibiting willful disruption at and near the location of military funerals, burials and memorial services for a period of time before, during and after the event.

The General Assembly’s Select Committee On Veterans’ Affairs will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 319, An Act Concerning Disruption of A Military Funeral at 11 a.m. Thursday, February 22nd, in Room 1C at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.