Funeral Picketing

March 20, 2006--Posted at 4:55 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR--There is a small church from Kansas that demonstrates at the funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq. They claim the soldiers are evil because they died defending a country that tolerates homosexuality. It happened last fall here in Region 8 in Pocahontas.  Now, a new proposed bill would make sure our fallen Arkansas soldiers get the respect they deserve.  

"I believe it is a disgrace, our soldiers are being put in harm's way because they are there serving our country," said Arkansas Representative J.P. Rogers.

That is why Arkansas State Representative Jeff Wood of Sherwood wants Governor Huckabee to include a bill in a special session that would ban protests at funerals and other memorial services.

"I am going to do everything I can do to support this bill to see that this doesn't happen. These families that lose love ones shouldn't have to go through this," said Rogers.

According to Rogers a funeral is a private event meant for family and friends and although everyone is entitled to freedom of speech a funeral is not the place for a protest.

"There is a time and a place and in my view. A funeral is not the time or the place," said Rogers.

Former representative and funeral director Paul Bookout feels it's the common courtesy that soldiers deserve for their service of protecting our freedom.

"Our state and country owes it to the deceased and certainly to the family and friends. They should be protected and given the dignity and the proper burial that our country owes them," said Bookout.

Several other states including Missouri have already passed similar legislation. Despite the fact the Pocahontas demonstration is the only example of these protests in Arkansas it is still something Bookout felt was needed for the state.

"Vast majority of people are patriotic and we regard the people that serve over there as heroes therefore, we should protect them as such them and their families," said Bookout.

This isn't the first bill Representative Rogers has backed supporting American soldiers. Last year he helped pass a bill that would not require soldiers to pay on their property tax while deployed.