Legislation approved to restrict protests at military funerals

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

Thursday, the New York State Senate gave final, unanimous

legislative approval today to legislation to allow the state and local governments to

 estrict protests at military funerals.

   The legislation (S.3901-A/A.7697), which was first introduced earlier this year in  response to protests that have occurred at military funerals in states across the nation, was approved by the Assembly last week.  It now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be signed into law.

   Among other specific provisions, the legislation would allow municipalities to require a permit to stage a protest within 1,000 feet of a military funeral.

   In a case earlier this year, Snyder v. Phelps, the United States Supreme Court ruled that while protestors at funerals of military personnel have constitutional rights, states also have a compelling interest to protect the mourning family members and friends of deceased military servicemen and servicewomen.

   O’Mara said that while any new state law won’t be in place in time to impact reports of possible protests in Cohocton on Saturday at the funeral of U.S. Army Sgt. Devin A. Snyder, he reiterated his belief, which he expressed in a statement yesterday, that the “outpouring of support for Devin and her family will overwhelm anything or anyone that seeks to do any different” than honor her service and life.

   O’Mara released the following statement earlier this week:

   “These protests are appalling, they’re wrong, and I regret that they’ve

   found their way here to one of our communities during such a difficult

   time.

   “The family, friends and neighbors of Devin Snyder deserve to mourn her

   passing and honor her service with all of the decency, respect,

   sensitivity and solemnity that Devin earned and deserves.

   “But most importantly, I know that there’s no way a misguided protest

   will be able to deter or distract the Snyder family, her friends, her

   fellow soldiers and veterans, and this community from carrying out

   their final goodbyes to Devin.  The outpouring of support for Devin and

   her family will overwhelm anything or anyone that seeks to do any

   different.

   “In the meantime my colleagues and I in the Legislature, recognizing

   that some so-called protestors refuse to act within the normal bounds

   of common human decency and respect, are in the process of enacting

   legislation to reasonably and constitutionally restrict any actions at

   military funerals that fail to respect the needs of mourning family

   members and communities.”