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Oklahoma State Senate
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties

For Immediate Release: April 12, 2010

Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
Sen. Jay Paul Gumm

Senator Gumm Wins Approval for Language to
Better Protect Grieving Military Families at Funerals

State Sen. Jay Paul Gumm has won Senate approval for measures aimed at better protecting families mourning the loss of fallen soldiers. Gumm successfully amended HB 2572 on Monday.

That legislation would better define the language in Oklahoma’s Funeral Picketing Act, which is aimed at keeping protestors from coming within 500 feet of where funeral services are being held from one hour before the services until an hour after the end of the services.

Gumm, a Democrat from Durant, successfully added amendatory language to ensure the family members cannot be ordered to pay attorney fees or other court costs resulting from such protests. In addition, if those family members are provoked by protestors who are in violation of the Funeral Picketing Act, those family members are given immunity from civil liability claims made as a result of their reaction to the protestors.

“We want to send a message loud and clear that we will not tolerate these protestors who show up to inflict pain on family members and show utter disrespect for the men and women who have given their lives in service to this country—nor will we enable them to profit from these heinous activities,” Gumm said. “That is the purpose of my language.”

Gumm was co-author of the original 2006 legislation creating the Oklahoma Funeral Picketing Act, and authored a bill the following year to further strengthen that law. Gumm said he was extremely distressed by a recent federal court ruling in a case in Pennsylvania, where a fallen Marine’s father had been ordered to pay the Westboro Baptist Church over $16,000 in legal fees—that’s after the father had sued the church for inflecting emotional distress for protesting at his son’s funeral. The case is now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We need to do everything in our power to protect the families of Oklahoma’s fallen military and ensure such groups cannot cause them further pain,” Gumm said. “As this bill goes through the Legislature, I hope my colleagues will continue to support language to better protect Oklahoma families.

“They deserve no less.”

For more information contact:
Sen. Gumm: 405-521-5586

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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