The Porter Town Council has officially enacted an ordinance intended to
maintain the dignity of funerals and the privacy of grievers.
At its meeting Tuesday night, the council voted 4-0 to approve the ordinance
on final reading.
The text of the ordinance:
“Sec. 42-29 Funeral protests.
“(a) Every person may freely speak, write, and publish the person’s
sentiments on all subjects, but no person shall picket or engage in other
protest activities, nor shall any association or corporation cause picketing
or other protest activities to occur within 300 feet of any residence,
cemetery, funeral home, synagogue, or other establishment during or within
one hour before or one hour after the conducting of any actual funeral or
burial service at that place.
“(b) As used in this section, ‘other protest activities’ means any action
that is disruptive or undertaken to disrupt or disturb a funeral or burial
“(c) “As used in this section, ‘funeral’ and ‘burial service’ mean the
ceremonies and memorial services held in conjunction with the burial or
cremation of the dead, but this section does not apply to processions while
they are in transit beyond the 300 foot zone.”
Members voted for the ordinance on final reading without discussion on
Tuesday but at their last meeting Member Elka Nelson noted that the language
is similar to one enacted in Manchester, Mo., and subsequently upheld by the
U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The ordinance is intended to protect mourners from the sort of demonstration
commonly staged by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., at military
funerals, for reasons best understood by that church’s members.