Current Affairs

US: Same-sex wedding held opposite Westboro Baptist Church

Aaron Day June 24, 2013
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A same-sex wedding was held opposite the adamantly homophobic Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas last Saturday.

Set facing the notoriously homophobic Westboro compound, the Equality House held its first same-sex wedding ceremony on Saturday evening.

Kimberly Kidwell, a 31-year-old ambulance technician, married Katie Short on the front lawn of the house which faces the church.

The Equality house was previously painted in rainbow pride colours by the owner Aaron Jackson in order to campaign against the Westboro’s anti-gay views.

Now, in continuing his campaign, Mr Jackson has said that the wedding would be the perfect way to mark the expected Supreme Court ruling on the equal marriage case over the following week.

“We wanted to help play a role in bringing light to this critical issue,” said Mr Jackson in an interview with the Huffington Post.

“None of us know exactly how the court is going to rule, but no matter what they say, there is still a lot of work to be done.”

Mr Jackson posted on Facebook that he was looking for a couple to get married, and Ms Kidwell said she thought it sounded like a perfect opportunity.

Recently, the Westboro church fell under controversy for telling a 5-year-old she would ‘burn in hell’ for selling pink lemonade in the name of peace.

On saturday, members of the church responded to the marriage ceremony by placing anti-gay signs and a banner outside its own property, but failed to disrupt the wedding as a whole.

Untroubled by the church’s protests, Kidwell said: “I guess I was numb after seeing them for a minute. I knew the signs would be there, and I wasn’t even angry about it. We were just so ecstatic to be married.”

Ms Kidwell and Ms Short, who live in Arkansas, travelled to Jackson’s house in Kansas where they were wed by a lesbian minister in front of around 100 family members, friends and well-wishers from the community.

Same-sex marriage is banned in both Arkansas and Kansas by constitutional amendment. Ms Kidwell said: “Since it’s illegal in Arkansas, we were really going to wait for it to become legal, but I read an article a couple of months ago that said out of the top nine states that were least likely to approve same-sex marriage, Arkansas was number one.”

At the ceremony, nearly everything, from the flowers and wedding cake to the harp music, was donated by local businesses and supportive community members.

Afterwards, the revelers moved to the backyard for the reception.

Ms Kidwell said she keeps thinking about the moment when a local reporter asked her if she had anything to say to the city of Topeka in which the marriage took place.

“I said that we deserve equality and the same rights as everyone else, and the people of Topeka deserve that equality, too,” she told the Huffington Post.

“I got so emotional just thinking that just one person from this city may change their views on homosexuals or the LGBT community as a whole.”

Related topics: Americas, Anti-gay, Civil partnerships, equal marriage, gay marriage, gay wedding, lesbian marriage, lesbian wedding, marriage, Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, marriage equality, same sex marriage, Same-sex wedding, US, wedding, Westboro

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