Arkansas Legislator Wants to Restrict Protests at Funerals

MARCH 20, 2006 - Posted at 1:46 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - An Arkansas state representative says he wants Governor Huckabee to include in a special legislative session a bill to ban protests at funerals and other memorial services.

State Representative Jeff Wood of Sherwood says he wrote about the proposal in a letter to Huckabee.

The bill stems from actions of the Reverend Fred Phelps and members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, which protested the funeral of a Region 8 soldier in Pocahontas last summer.

The church says American soldiers are dying in Iraq because God is punishing America for its tolerance of homosexuality.

They have been protesting at soldiers' funerals nationwide in recent months with signs such as "God Made IEDs", a reference to roadside bombs.

North Little Rock City Attorney Paul Suskie wrote in a letter to Huckabee that it was Phelps' church protested in Pocahontas last year.

As a result of Phelps' actions, several states have passed or considered legislation restricting demonstrations at funerals.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)