Minister Halts Lesbian's Funeral

He wouldn't allow images of her with partner to be shown
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2015 10:47 PM CST
Updated Jan 14, 2015 6:03 AM CST
Protestors pray across the street from New Hope Ministries during a rally in Lakewood, Colo., yesterday.   (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Craig F. Walker)
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(Newser) – Mourners at a Colorado funeral had to pick up flowers, programs—and the casket—and move the whole service to a mortuary across the street because the church objected to a photo of Vanessa Collier proposing to her wife. Friends and family members of the 33-year-old lesbian say Pastor Ray Chavez insisted that there be no indication she was gay; he ended up halting Saturday's memorial service after 15 minutes, with 170 mourners in attendance. "It was humiliating," a friend tells the Denver Post. "It was devastating."

A spokesman for Lakewood's New Hope Ministries tells USA Today that gays are welcome, but pastors ask for "alternative lifestyles" to be censored in the church. He says the service was called off after the family refused to edit the proposal photo out of a video that was to be played. Collier's friends—dozens of whom joined a protest outside the church yesterday—say the video had been given to the church a week earlier and the pastor had plenty of time to review it before the service. Collier, the mother of two girls, 7 and 11, died Dec. 30. USA Today reports that she died when her gun went off while she was cleaning it, although a family spokesman says police are probing the death as a possible suicide.

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