Utah Bans Funeral Protests

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Salt Lake City (AP) Utah is joining a growing list of states restricting demonstrations near funerals in response to nationwide protests at services for soldiers killed in Iraq.

Governor Jon Huntsman signed House Bill 205 into law Wednesday. It prohibits protests within 200 feet, an hour before or after a funeral or memorial service.

The bill's proponents say they've been outraged by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. Its members claim God is punishing U.S. soldiers in Iraq for defending a nation that tolerates homosexuality.

The church is unaffiliated with mainstream Baptist congregations and is on the southern poverty law center's watch list as a hate group.

Anyone convicted of violating the ban would be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and six months in prison.

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