LAKEWOOD, Colo.– A Lakewood pastor refused to hold a memorial service for a lesbian woman on Saturday.
“Her casket was open, flowers laid out and hundreds of people sitting in the pews,” supporters said in a Facebook post. “He collected money for the funeral and has yet to return it.”
Vanessa Collier died on December 29, 2014 at the age of 33. She is survived by her wife and two kids.
When the minister declined to hold the memorial service at his New Hope church, friends and family members of the deceased moved the ceremony to a funeral home across the street.
Newcomer Funeral Home accepted the memorial service and everyone in attendance.
But Collier’s loved ones were still angry with the New Hope minister.
“A church turning away a funeral. Who has ever heard of anything like that happening?” said Jeanette Arguello, a family friend.
Protests were held outside of the church on Tuesday. Signs saying “You will not find Jesus at New Hope but you will find hypocrisy,” and “Indignity in death,” were held to show disapproval of the close-mindedness.
Security guards stood outside the church as people chanted, “Give us an apology!”
Those close to Collier aren’t the only ones who are disappointed with the refusal.
These people are sick. This is not religious freedom, it's hate. Pure and simple. http://t.co/qGvDzasCT0
— Matthew DesOrmeaux ⚜ (@authoridad) January 14, 2015
— mondogarage (@mondogarage) January 13, 2015
“If the story is true, it truly is appalling that a family would have to go through this,” said Rex Fuller, a spokesman for the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Community Center of Colorado. “It’s just a really tragic situation.”
Friends said Collier’s death was “unexpected,” and they said family members did not want to discuss the cause. Thornton police are investigating Collier’s death as a possible suicide, said spokesman Matt Barnes.