New Hope Ministries Cancels Lesbian's Funeral Due to Her Sexuality Because Sometimes People Suck

It's a sad fact of life that there will always be awful people somewhere. And regarding evidence of that this week, a Lakewood, Colorado church canceled a woman's funeral Saturday because she was a lesbian. Because nothing says class like pushing your agenda at someone else's funeral. That is the lesson we've all taken away from the Westboro Baptist Church, right?

The funeral for Vanessa Collier, a mother of two, was originally scheduled to be performed at New Hope Ministries, but 15 minutes after the service was scheduled to begin, everyone at the church was told they needed to move to an alternate location across the street. Pastor Ray Chavez had decided to cancel the service after the family declined his request that the memorial video of Vanessa Collier not include her sharing a kiss with her partner Christina Higley.

In an email to KDVR, Higley wrote, “Vanessa and I were together for three beautiful years. Our daughters are 12 and 7. Having to explain to them why we had to leave was completely heartbreaking.”

The move sparked protests against New Hope Ministries, a church whose website claims it is "a place where those bound by drugs, alcohol, gangs and violence can find an 'Ounce of Hope.'" Apparently, though, that sense of loving outreach does not extend to LGBT people.

New Hope's spokesperson Gary Rolando has stated about the incident, "New Hope is very sorry. It's very sad that it happened the way that it did." It remains to be seen if the church will also honor the family's request that the money they paid to hold the funeral at New Hope be refunded.

Unfortunately this is not the first instance of a funeral being canceled because the pastor or other religious leader has an issue with the deceased's sexuality. In fact, a church in Tampa made headlines for doing just that less than six months ago, though they at least didn't cancel after the casket had been displayed and the mourners were in the pews. Still, no matter when the cancelation gets handed down, heaping onto a family's grief by canceling a funeral is never an OK thing to do.

No matter how much someone might disagree with a person's choices about how to live their lives, there is a time and a place to express your opinions about political and social issues. A funeral is never one of them. Funerals are a time for loved ones to remember and to say goodbye. They are personal and deeply emotional. They are not an opportunity for someone else to demonstrate their political beliefs.

"This is about not being able to have dignity in death for one of God's children," family friend Jose Silva told KDVR. "No matter what the circumstances — if you're black, white, brown, gay, lesbian, transgender — we all deserve that. And the church did not afford that to us."

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