Lakewood Woman's Funeral

A Lakewood church has garnered protests after refusing to host funeral services for a lesbian wife and mother.

A church in Lakewood, CO has come under fire for refusing to hold funeral services for a woman. The minister’s reason is that the video her friends and family put together for her funeral services displayed footage of the woman and her wife kissing and showing affection.

Vanessa Collier died in December at the age of 33. A week before her funeral services were held, her family had given the pastor of the New Hope Ministries a memorial video. However, the family did not receive any word that they would be turned away until 15 minutes after the memorial service was already scheduled to begin. During the funeral service, Pastor Ray Chavez told the family that they would have to edit out the images, including one of Collier proposing to her wife, in order to continue. When the family refused, they were forced to move the service and its nearly 200 attendees to the Newcomer Funeral Home across the street.

In response to the church’s refusal, many protested in front of the church. Jose Silva, a family friend to Collier, organized the protest. “This is about not being able to have dignity in death for one of God’s children,” he told reporters. “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.”

Collier’s wife, Christina Higley, was so overcome with emotions she could not speak on camera. However, she emailed reporters to comment, “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.”

So far, representatives of New Hope Ministries have refused to comment.

Collier died while cleaning her gun and it fired. The local police have reported it may have been a suicide.

Collier is survived by her wife, Higley, and two young children.

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