After a family refused to edit a video of Vanessa Collier kissing her wife for her funeral, Denver’s New Hope Ministries forced the family and friends to move to another funeral home across the street.
The funeral was set for January 10. Friends and family started taking their seats around 10 a.m., and at 10:15 a.m., Pastor Ray Chavez said the funeral was being moved due to “technical difficulties.”
“I thought we were being punked,” Collier’s friend Jose Silva said. “I thought it was a joke. It wasn’t a joke.”
The video was submitted to the funeral home 48 hours in advance for them to review it.
“They misplaced it and asked for another copy,” Gary Rolando, who conducted the funeral service at Newcomer Funeral Home. “The family delivered another copy and when it was reviewed, [church pastors] realized there was content that involved [same-sex] kissing. They don’t want overt, open homosexuality in their sanctuary.”
When the family was asked to edit out the video, they declined.
“They didn’t want to edit her life,” Silva said.
Collier’s cousin, Jessica Maestas, said she couldn’t believe the funeral was moved.
“It just really hurt that they could pack us up like that and throw us out,” she said. “It was disgusting.”
“It felt like I had been hit with a bat across the chest,” he said. “It was the most horrific feeling I have ever had. Every person who dies should have an opportunity to be buried with dignity.”
Last week, protesters marched outside of New Hope with signs that read, “Dignity in Death Vanessa,” and “You will not find Jesus at New Hope but you will find HYPOCRISY.”
Though New Hope refused to speak to ABC News, Rolando said they apologized.
“New Hope is very sorry,” he said. “It’s very sad that it happened the way that it did.
According to Silva, the family paid New Hope Ministries $400 for the service and someone from the church walked a refund over to Newcomer for the family.