A pastor in Lakewood, Colorado cancelled the funeral of a young woman last Saturday because photos of the woman together with her wife were displayed at the service, reported The Denver Post.
Pastor Ray Chavez of New Hope Ministries, who was charged with overseeing the memorial service of Vanessa Collier, 33, shut down the funeral service while hundreds of Collier’s friends and family were in attendance. Chavez ordered the family to remove the photos of Collier with her wife. They rightly refused, and Chavez canceled the funeral 15 minutes into the ceremony.
Luckily, there was a mortuary across the street. Family and friends moved the decor, the guests, and even the casket, and were able to continue the funeral.
“It was humiliating,” said Collier’s friend, Victoria Quintana. “It was devastating.”
“A church turning away a funeral. Who has ever heard of anything like that happening,” said Jeanette Arguello, another friend of Collier’s.
Lakewood is apparently a divided place where the homosexual community is marginalized and not fully accepted. The Denver Post reported that the bio of New Hope Ministries describes itself as “a place where those bound by drugs, alcohol, gangs and violence can find an ‘Ounce of Hope.’” That message obviously doesn’t apply to the LGBT community, afflicted or otherwise.
Chavez’s actions quickly prompted a protest where members of the LGBT community and human rights advocates alike picketed against the church. Outraged, those who knew Collier shouted “Give us an apology!” and “Shame on Pastor Ray!”
When it comes to homosexuality, church leaders become demons. The American religious right is the central foundry of hate in this country. Even in death, it seems that people of the LGBT community are not safe from attack.