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Church, Mourners At Odds Over Kissing Photo At Gay Woman's Funeral

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) - A church's objections over a photo that showed a gay couple kissing brought a funeral to a halt on Saturday in Lakewood.

The ceremony was supposed to feature a photo-video montage of the deceased, Vanessa Collier, kissing her common-law wife. But when New Hope Ministries found out about the presentation, it asked that it be edited.

Vanessa Collier1
Vanessa Collier (credit: CBS)

Mourners refused and moved services across the street to a funeral home. The church said it did not force them to leave.

"They wanted us to edit the video because of her sexual orientation. It shouldn't matter," Collier's cousin Jessica Maestas said.

Collier, 33, did not attend New Hope Ministries, but the funeral home in charge of her services contracted with the church to hold the ceremony there.

On Tuesday, protesters gathered at the church.

"What do we want? Respect! When do we want it? Now!" protesters chanted.

"New Hope did their very best to accommodate this family in their hour of need," Chaplain Gary Rolando said.

New Hope Ministries Vanessa Collier
New Hope Ministries (credit: CBS)

He said the church did not discover the objectionable content until late because it had been lost.

But the protesters said they believe the church's policy is wrong.

"I feel that the church doesn't respect us. Vanessa was an amazing woman," friend Natasha Walker said.

The church declined to comment.

Vanessa Collier2
Vanessa Collier kneeling in the photo (credit: CBS)

One passerby got into an argument with the marchers.

"You guys are taking the Bible out of context," the passerby said.

"This is not Christianity. This is not Christianity," the protesters chanted.

The family had paid for use of the church for the service but the church refunded the money after the service was moved.

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