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Colorado Church Refuses Memorial Service to Lesbian Mom and Wife

Colorado Church Refuses Memorial Service to Lesbian Mom and Wife

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A Colorado church cancelled a lesbian's funeral at the last minute after church leaders learned of her sexual orientation.

Friends and supporters held a "Dignity in Death" rally Tuesday for a wife and mother of two who was denied a proper memorial service by a church in Lakewood, Colo., because she was a lesbian. With hundreds of people sitting in pews awaiting a memorial service for Vanessa Collier, who died Dec. 29, church officials at New Hope Ministries, where the memorial was scheduled to take place this past Saturday, refused to perform the service, according to NBC News.

Just prior to Collier's service, church officials asked that a photo of her proposing to her wife be removed from a memorial video. When the family refused to pull the photo the church then refused service, forcing loved ones to find a last-minute venue for the memorial. Fifteen minutes into what should have been Collier's service, mourners were instead scrambling to move her service across the street to the Newcomer Funeral Home, according to NBC.

At Tuesday's rally friends and supporters held signs that read, "You will not find Jesus at New Hope but you will find hypocrisy," and "Indignity in death," reports The Denver Post.

A representative for New Hope Ministries, founded in 1981 by Pastor Ray Chavez and his wife Lola, refused to comment on allegations that Collier was denied a service because she was gay, according to The Denver Post.

New Hope Ministries is "a place where those bound by drugs, alcohol, gangs and violence can find an 'Ounce of Hope," boasts the church's website, according to the Post. But, area manager for Newcomer Funeral Home, David Campanella said that the service was moved to the funeral home at the 11th hour because, "Certain events were not going to be allowed to take place according to the church. In talking with family we decided it would be best to have the services here."

Collier died last month when her gun went off while she was cleaning it, according to NBC News. She is survived by her wife and two children.

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