The controversial Westboro Baptist Church, best known for its noisy protests at the funerals of fallen soldiers, vowed today to defy a new bill signed by President Obama that would require that they be kept at least 300 feet from a soldier’s funeral.
Obama signed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 into law on Monday.
Among the 50 provisions in the legislation that range from benefits for military personnel to healthcare and education is a clause that restricts protesters from gathering within 300 feet of a military funeral two hours before or two hours after a funeral service has taken place.
“We have a moral sacred duty to our men and women in uniform,” Obama said before signing the bill. “The graves of our veterans are hallowed grounds.”
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., tweeted their reaction today, suggesting they will still protest.
“Pass your laws, @barackobama but your soldiers = still dying. Like @usmarinecorps Gunnery Sgt Dan Price. #PicketFuneral,” wrote one member.
Another church member expressed his anger over the new law. “They speak for whole nation. #FagsDoomNations MT@MaxineMagazine: Congress Gives Middle Finger To God goo.gl/VrxLH via @instinctmag” one Westboro member tweeted.
Church member Steve Drain, 47, told ABC News, “It wont affect what we do at all. We are still going to be out there at soldiers funerals warning people that America is doomed.”
“We will do it in a lawful fashion. We will stand 301 feet away. There is prime preaching real estate at 301 feet” he declares. ”My voice can carry a lot farther than 300 feet. That is only the size of a football field,” he said.
The church is known for its extreme ideological standings, especially those relating to homosexuality.
The church links the deaths of service members to America’s acceptance of gays and has a webpage full of press releases highlighting the picketing schedule of military service member funerals.
The legislation appears to contradict a 2011 Supreme Court ruling which established that the First Amendment protects members of the Westboro Baptist Church in holding their provocative, anti-gay protests during military funeral services.