POLITICS
08/09/2012 08:39 pm ET

Veterans' Families Thankful For Legislation Restricting Westboro Baptist Church Protests

A new law restricting Westboro Baptist Church's ability to picket military funerals has drawn thanks from the people it will impact most -- the families of fallen soliders.

"I'm sorry that we need legislation to compel people to behave themselves," Jean Durgin, whose son Army Sgt. Russell Durgin was killed in 2006, said at a Thursday news conference. "But as you know, we have many incidents in this country where people need sensitivity training. I would be glad to participate in that."

While Durgin's son's funeral was not targeted by Westboro picketers, she said she was anxious that they would decide to show up.

"I'm so glad that I did not have to deal with that," she said.

Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.), one of the legislation's co-sponsors, also spoke out on the law's impact during Thursday's news conference in Concord, N.H.

"I believe that men and women who have fought and died for our country deserve the greatest dignity and respect and their families deserve the ability to commemorate and grieve for their loved ones in peace," Bass said. "It is a great day, I think, for those of us who respect our men and women in combat with this legislation signed into law the other day by our president, Barack Obama."

Bass was joined at the conference by about 10 veteran activists, according to
the Concord Monitor.

On Monday, Obama signed the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 into law. That legislation includes a provision requiring protesters to remain at least 300 feet away from military funerals. Protests are prohibited two hours before and after a service.

Westboro immediately fired back at the law, vowing that they will not be hampered by the new restrictions. According to one member, there's "usually some prime real estate at 301 feet."

The group is notorious for picketing military funerals, as they believe that deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are God's punishment for the United States' toleration of homosexuality. In recent weeks, Westboro protests have been met with overwhelming backlash, with many communities now staging counter-protests to block the hateful messages.

Below, a slideshow of photos of a human wall formed by Texas A&M students to block Westboro Baptist Church members from protesting at a soldier's funeral:

Texas A&M Maroon Wall

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