IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Woman's Family Says Church Nixed Funeral Because She Was Gay

The family moved the service to a funeral home across the street.
Victoria Quintana
Victoria Quintana carries a photograph of Vanessa Collier, right, and her partner, Christina Higley, during a rally outside New Hope Ministries in Lakewood, Colorado.Craig F. Walker

The family of a 33-year-old woman who died in Colorado says a minister canceled her funeral because she was gay.

Vanessa Collier’s relatives and friends gathered to celebrate her life at New Hope Ministries in Lakewood last Saturday. But pastor Ray Chavez called off the service minutes before it began because, he said, there could be no indication that she was openly gay, The Denver Post reported on Tuesday. The family wanted to display photographs of Collier with her wife, Christina Higley, and their two children. Relatives also had hoped to show a video of images of Collier, including her kissing Christina on the lips and bending down on one knee to propose to her wife.

Instead of removing the images and continuing with the service at New Hope Ministries, the family moved Collier’s casket, pictures and flowers to Newcomer Funeral Home, across the street from the church.

“When the service was not able to take place as planned at New Hope Ministries, we relocated the service to our chapel to be able to take care of the services within the family’s wishes,” David Campanella, area manager at Newcomer Funeral Home, told msnbc. He said he couldn’t provide additional details about the service or attendees because he wasn’t present at the funeral home on Saturday.

A representative from New Hope Ministries didn’t immediately respond to msnbc’s request for comment on Thursday.


— Michele Richinick