Church halts funeral over photo of 2 women kissing

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This photo of protestors gathered outside New Hope Ministries on Tuesday was provided by protest organizer Jose Silva to ABC News

As we here at Dallas Voice are getting ready to publish on Friday, Jan. 16, the first of what is intended to become the annual Dallas Voice Lesbian Issue, we were horrified to come across this story about a Colorado lesbian whose funeral was halted midstream and forced to move to another location because of a homophobic pastor:

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Vanessa Collier

Friends of Vanessa Collier this week protested outside a Lakewood, Colo., church Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 13, after the pastor of New Hope Ministries church stopped their friend’s funeral on Jan. 10 because of a video showing Collier kissing her wife.

Collier, 33, died Dec. 30. She is survived by her wife, Christina Higley, and their two children, among other family members. Jessica Maestas, Collier’s cousin who helped Collier’s mother arrange the funeral, told ABC News that New Hope Ministries was aware that Collier was a lesbian because they told the church about her sexual orientation while they were making funeral arrangements. Maestas also said they told the church that they would be playing a video at the service, and that they had complied with the church’s rule that the video be submitted two days prior to the funeral so church officials could review it.

“I provided the video, and got the okay from the funeral home that we would be able to show it,” Maestas told ABC News.

But last Saturday, about 15 minutes into the funeral, New Hope Pastor Ray Chavez stopped the funeral and told family and friends they would have to remove a video that included photos of Collier kissing Higley, and photos of the two women together with their children. Irate mourners instead gathered up the flowers, the programs for the service and eventually Collier’s casket and moved to a new location. Fortunately, Newcomer Funeral Home, across the street from New Hope Ministries, was able to accommodate the funeral, although the crowd of about 180 had to pack into a room intended for about half that many.

Collier’s longtime friend Victoria Quintana told the Denver Post that the whole incident was “humiliating [and] devastating.”

The Post reported that about four dozen people gathered outside New Hope Ministries on Tuesday afternoon, waving signs saying “Shame on Pastor Ray” and demanding an apology for what happened, as security guards posted around the church made sure none of the protesters moved onto church property.

ABC News also notes that Collier’s relatives say they have received no refund on the money they paid New Hope Ministries to host the funeral.

Both ABC News and the Denver Post said that no one at New Hope Ministries would comment on the situation.

—  Tammye Nash

GetEQUAL TX plans Olympics protest, marriage equality rally this weekend

People flooded theCedar Springs Road in June for a Day of Decision rally after the Supreme Court marriage rulings. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

People flooded Cedar Springs Road in June for a Day of Decision rally after the Supreme Court marriage rulings. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

UPDATE: Due to weather conditions, the protest in San Antonio has been postponed.

ORIGINAL POST: LGBT advocates plan to protest Coca-Cola at the company’s bottling plant in San Antonio on Friday, the opening day of the Winter Games in Sochi, and then rally to support marriage equality in Fort Worth on Saturday.

The protest, organized by GetEQUAL TX, urges Coca-Cola to expand its LGBT support from a national focus to a global one.

“As a sponsor of the Olympic,s Coca Cola has the chance to become a leader on global human rights forefront by demanding the International Olympic Commission refuse any future bid from countries that use the law to persecute LGBTQ people who simply wish to live with dignity,” GetEQUAL TX states in a press release.

Then on Saturday, Cowtown-area activists will gather at Avoca Coffee to protest the freedom to marry in Texas in support of a marriage lawsuit filed by a Plano and Austin couple in San Antonio federal court. A hearing for a temporary injunction to prohibit state officials from enforcing Texas’ marriage ban takes place Feb. 12.

Among the speakers on Saturday are Dallas couple Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler, who were arrested in their attempts to receive a marriage license in Dallas

“With a legal battle taking place in San Antonio, I could not help to think of the many civil rights that have been fought for in wars and completely forsaken,” protest organizer Damon Carver said. “After overturning DOMA, most of the nation celebrated good news, some couples who resorted to tourist weddings had great news. On this day we will be presumptuously toasting to celebrate our victories.”

“Defecting to another state for any freedom including marriage is anti-American, and will soon be anti-Texan,” he added.

Rally participants are encouraged to wear different styles of cowboy hats to the event since Texans are represented with cowboy hats. and the different styles represent the variety in the LGBT community.

The protest in San Antonio is 6 p.m. Friday at the bottling plant, located at 1 Coca-Cola Place.

The marriage rally is noon Saturday at Avoca Coffee, located at 1311 W. Magnolia Ave. in Fort Worth.

—  Dallasvoice

GetEQUAL TX to protest Rawlings for pulling pro-equality resolution

Rawlings.Mike

Mayor Mike Rawlings

LGBT activists plan to protest Mayor Mike Rawlings on Thursday morning after he said he planned to pull a resolution in support of LGBT job protections and marriage equality.

Regional GetEQUAL TX coordinator Daniel Cates said advocates will protest Rawlings’ appearance at Lakewood Country Club, 6430 Gaston Ave., from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“It seems like we have a lot of work to do here,” Cates said.

Last January, after he declined to sign a pledge from the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, Rawlings skipped a neighborhood meeting to avoid a gay-rights protest.

Activists are also planning to communications bomb Jasso, who withdrew her support for the resolution and allowed Rawlings to pull it. They’re encouraging people to call her office, email and Facebook message her Thursday morning until Friday at 4 p.m. to demand why she withdrew her support.

Jasso’s assistant, Gary Sanchez, can be reached at 214-670-4052, and her secretary, Mariza Perez, can be reached at 214-670-4055.

—  Dallasvoice

Jury deliberates fate of homophobic reggae artist Buju Banton, who faces life in prison

The Associated Press is reporting that closing arguments have been given in the case of reggae singer Buju Banton’s drug case.

The 37-year-old Banton is accused of conspiring with two other men in setting up a drug deal in December of 2009. His album “Before the Dawn” won a Grammy for best reggae album this week, and he remains wildly popular in his native Jamaica.

A jury deadlocked in his first trial last year. If convicted of all the charges, he faces up to life in prison.

Every seat in the federal courtroom in Tampa was filled as the lawyers gave their closing arguments. Many of the seats were taken by Banton’s friends and fans, including well-known reggae artists Gramps Morgan and Wayne Wonder. During the lunch break, about a dozen supporters held hands and prayed for Banton in the court hallway.

“I’m fighting for my freedom,” said Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie. “I’m fighting for my life.”

Banton is notorious for his strongly homophobic songs calling for the torture and murder of gay men — or “batty boys” as they are known in his native Jamaica. He came to Dallas in 2009 on tour to face a protest at his concert at the Deep Ellum reggae venue The Palm Beach Club.

—  Rich Lopez

Arrests in Chi. Marriage Protest

CHICAGO SKYLINE X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMSix marriage equality activists were arrested Monday afternoon in Chicago.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  David Taffet

WBC, Smith Protest at Red State Premiere

KevinSmithx390 (Kevin Smith) | Advocate.comFew members of the Westboro Baptist Church appeared for a protest Sunday against Red State at the Sundance Film Festival, where director Kevin Smith declared that he would release the film himself rather than sell the rights to it.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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AZ Lawmakers Totally Harshing On Westboro Baptist’s Protest Of 9-Year-Old’s Funeral

Hoping to beat the Supreme Court in screwing with the Westboro Baptist Church's travel plans, lawmakers in Arizona are rushing through a bill that would prevent protests within 300 feet of a funeral or burial service, from an hour before to an hour after the event, effectively barring the Phelps clan from demonstrating at 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green's service on Monday. Green was among those killed during Saturday's Safeway shooting, and Westboro quickly announced plans to escort her body into the ground. That said, the bill will only make it a misdemeanor to show up within the safety zone, and I think Shirley Phelps would be willing to become a semi-martyr for a community service conviction.


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Flashback to June 27, 2009: SLDN’s DADT protest in front of White House

Today, as noted below, SLDN has organized a protest at the Capitol. This isn’t the first protest. In June of 2009, SLDN organized a protest in front of the White House to protest the President’s inaction on DADT repeal. The group wanted the President to lead. Still waiting. I am reposting my coverage of that protest. We had indications over a year ago that there was trouble with DADT repeal. SLDN got into a lot of trouble with the White House over this protest and the repeated efforts through 2009 to get the process moving. Back then, we all thought we’d get ENDA passed before DADT repeal. But, we didn’t even get a committee vote on ENDA. I don’t think anyone thought we’d get to the end of this session of Congress with neither. There’s still some hope on DADT, but everything has to go very smoothly with no procedural BS games.

From June 27, 2009:

According to press pool reports, President Obama was at the White House today. I hope he heard the noise from the protest organized by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). The group collected 265 buttons, symbolizing the 265 servicemembers who have been discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell since Obama took office, for delivery to the President.

As we all know, the President committed to ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeatedly during the primaries and general election. But, it hasn’t happened. Nothing has. As Obama said on his campaign website:

America is ready to get rid of the Don’t Ask, Dont Tell policy. All that is required is leadership.

Leadership. Yes. It is needed.

It’s really quite sad that SLDN has to protest to get the attention of the White House. But, we are where we are and this White House needs pressure. If you haven’t called yet, the number is 202-456-1414. Tell Obama to end the DADT policy — he has the power. Yes, we want a legislative repeal, but Obama can stop the discharges NOW. He is the leader.

Here’s a video with several scenes, too:

Still waiting for leadership. In June of 2009, this was a very brave act. No one on the progressive side was protesting Obama — except some gay activists. The DOMA brief was filed on June 12, 2009 so some of us were already aware that we didn’t have a fierce advocate, as promised. The gays were ahead of the curve.




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Watch: Belmont University Denies Firing Coach for Telling Students She’s Gay, as Students Protest

Howe

I posted about this briefly in the round-up the other day, but it deserves more attention.

HoweNashville's Belmont University President Dr. Bob Fisher today denied firing soccer coach Lisa Howe after she told students that she is a lesbian and her same-sex partner was pregnant. 

News Channel 5 reports:

Dr. Bob Fisher spoke at a news conference at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the campus' Student Life Center. Up until now, Fisher hadn't spoken a word publicly about the controversy.

Fisher said, first and foremost, he has done a poor job communication with the public since the controversy started last Wednesday. He did not take any questions from reporters, and said he would not specifically talk about Lisa Howe's departure since it was a personnel issue.

***

Mike Curb, the founder of Curb Records and the name behind the Curb Event Center where Lisa Howe worked, said on Tuesday he wanted to see Belmont act like Christians and rehire the soccer coach.

Curb released this statement on Wednesday:  "President Fisher has asked me as a member of the Board, now that I've made my statement completely, to hold off making any further statements to give him an opportunity to resolve these issues so that this type of injustice can never happen again."

Students have been protesting since Howe's departure and show no signs of stopping.

Just after the controversy erupted, Marty Dickens, chairman of Belmont's board of trustees defended the school's actions, saying, "We do adhere to our values as Christ-centered, and we don't want to make apologies for that."

There is now a Facebook group demanding Dickens' resignation

Watch News2Nashville's report on the firing and protests, AFTER THE JUMP



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Aftermath of last week’s DADT protest at the White House

Scott Wooledge, who was arrested last week along with other GetEqual protesters, at the White House fence, writes about what the protest accomplished.




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