Brown vetoes Calif. funeral protest ban

Sept. 8, 2011 at 2:38 PM
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SACRAMENTO, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- California Gov. Jerry Brown says he reluctantly vetoed a bill aimed at a controversial anti-gay church known for protests at military funerals.

In his veto message Wednesday, Brown said he was "very tempted" to sign the ban on protests, the Sacramento Bee reported. But he said the bill is unconstitutional based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on similar legislation from another state.

The Westboro Baptist Church, a small group mostly from one extended family in Topeka, Kan., has become notorious for picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Rev. Fred Phelps, the church's patriarch and pastor, suggests those deaths are God's punishment for U.S. tolerance of homosexuality.

The bill passed the California legislature almost unanimously.

"I cannot in good faith sign this measure because it plainly fails to comport with the Supreme Court's decision," Brown said.

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