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Missouri governor Jay Nixon signs funeral protest bill inspired by Westboro Baptist Church

Gov. Jay Nixon Friday signed legislation designed to clear up potential legal questions surrounding the state’s funeral protest law.

A state law passed in 2006 requires protesters to stay 300 feet away from funeral sites, from an hour before they start until an hour after services end. But a federal appeals court ruled that buffer zone could not be enforced in regard to funeral processions.

The bill signed Friday specifies that the law does not apply to a funeral procession. The legal challenge inspiring the legislation was brought by members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, which regularly protests military funerals.

“This law continues our efforts to protect the rights of families grieving at a funeral to not experience hate-filled intrusions,” Nixon said in a statement. “The very concept of these protests is repulsive to the vast majority of Missourians.”

Violation of the law would be a class B misdemeanor on the first offense and a class A midemeanor after that.

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