Church Must Pay Damages to Dead Marine's Family

BALTIMORE (AP) -- A federal jury has ruled that a fundamentalist Kansas church was wrong to picket the funeral of a fallen Marine in Maryland.

The jury awarded 2.9 million dollars in compensatory damages to the family of Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq. It found that the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka invaded the family's privacy and intentionally inflicted emotional distress when it demonstrated at Snyder's funeral last year.

The jury will now consider punitive damages. But the judge has already pointed out that the compensatory damage award is far more money than the defendants have.

Members of the small church routinely picket military funerals. They argue that U.S. troops are dying as punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality.

A number of states have passed laws limiting funeral protests, and Congress has banned such protests at federal cemeteries.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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