Supporters stand outside the Calvary Church in Murray during the funeral of Adam Galvez, who died Aug. 20 in a bomb attack in Iraq. In the days before she was to bury her son who had been killed in Iraq, Amy Galvez received some disturbing news.
    Her son's funeral had been targeted for protest by a Christian sect whose parishioners claim to believe God is punishing service members abroad for their country's tolerance of homosexuality back home.
    A bill introduced by state Rep. Ron Bigelow, R-West Valley City, in the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee on Wednesday would make engaging in protests at any funeral a class B misdemeanor.
    If passed, the bill would create an hour-long buffer, before and after the funeral and memorial procession, in which protesters could not display banners or posters, make loud or disruptive noises or distribute any written material that is not a part of the memorial service.
    At Wednesday's hearing, Bigelow said the bill's language would need to "walk a fine line with the First Amendment," which includes the right to protest.
    Bigelow said he believed the bill would pass constitutional muster by allowing protesters to speak their minds 200 feet and 60 minutes apart from any funeral. Although "if I had my way, the difference would be about 200 miles and about 60 days," he said.
    At least 34 other states have pursued similar laws, which have been prompted mainly by the actions of the same small Kansas church, which pledged to protest the Galvez funeral, according to the Nashville-based First Amendment Center.
    The church has been demonstrating at the funerals of slain homosexuals for years, but it wasn't until it shifted its tactics to target military members that most states took legislative action against its methods. Unlike many other states, where protections have only been afforded to the funerals of military members, the Utah law is currently written to broadly protect all funerals against protest.
    A law signed by President Bush last year banned demonstrations at property under the control of the National Cemetery Administration, including Arlington National Cemetery. But because that law applies only to federal cemeteries, the bill's authors encouraged state lawmakers to enact their own legislation.
    Though the protest at her son's funeral never materialized, Amy Galvez said she supports the new legislation.
    "Any family who is burying a loved one shouldn't have to be exposed to that type of thing - where people are protesting and ridiculing," said Galvez, whose son, a Marine, died in an Aug. 20 roadside bomb attack.