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article imageWestboro Baptist witnesses gay wedding across from premises

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jun 24, 2013 in Lifestyle
Topeka - The Westboro Baptist Church witnessed a gay marriage ceremony that took place across from their premises Saturday. Kimberly Kidwell, 31, married Katie Short in a wedding ceremony conducted on the front lawn of the rainbow-painted Equality House in Topeka.
Kidwell and Short traveled from Little Rock, Arkansas to exchanged vows in the outdoor ceremony put up through the non-profit organization Planting Peace by local donors. The wedding took place barely 50 feet from the front doors of the gay-hating Westboro Church. Planting Peace had posted a message to Facebook, saying they were looking for a gay couple to get married.
Kidwell and her partner seized the opportunity.
Planting Peace said it decided to host the wedding because: "We wanted to play a part in bringing two people together that are very much in love, and it's an unfortunate fact that the government treats them as second-class citizens."
According to the Huffington Post, the flowers and wedding cake were donated by local community members.
After the wedding, the guests moved to the backyard where a reception was held. About 100 guests were present at the ceremony.
According to Kidwell, when a reporter asked her what she had to say to the city of Topeka, she said: "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."
Westboro Church acknowledged the wedding with anti-gay signs, a banner and an American flag placed upside-down along their wooden fence, NY Daily News reports. No member of the church came out to protest.
However, the church responded to the wedding on Twitter, saying it was a "a great preaching ceremony," a reference to the virulent anti-gay messages they placed on their fence.
The Twitter message, which included a photo of the anti-gay signs on their fence, said: "We love all neighbors & tell them truth as they gather."
The wedding took place at the Equality House though same-sex marriage is not legal in Kansas. The Supreme Court is expected to make a rule on two landmark cases next week. Jackson said his group decided to put up the wedding as a way of marking what they hope will be a historic moment for gay rights. He told the Huffington Post: "We wanted to help play a role in bringing light to this critical issue. 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."
Same-sex marriage is illegal in Arkansas also. Kidwell and Short said they had thought they would never be able to get married. 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..."
Commenting on the anti-gay messages on the Wesboro Church fence, she said: "I guess I was almost 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 getting married."
An ordained lesbian Baptist minister, Rev. Robin Lunn, Executive Director of the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists, who campaigns to raise awareness on LGBT issues, performed the ceremony. According to NY Daily News, she said she had hoped that members of the Westboro Church would come out to talk to them. She said: "They're not interested in us. No one came out of their compound. They just put up their ugly signs and that was the extent of it."
NY Daily News reports that Lunn said she did not step on the property of the Westboro Church because she had been warned they often sue people who step on their property. She said that her 15-state Living Jubilee Revival Tour would collect prayers for the church which they would mail to them in a packet. She said: "We don't hate them. We disagree with their message and their interpretation of the Bible but we don't hate them and we wanted to bring our version of what it means to be a Baptist. Love is bigger than hate."
Digital Journal reported that the Equality House is the property of Aaron Jackson, one of the founders of Planting Peace. Jackson bought the House last year and has been living in it for the past six months.
According to Planting Peace: "The Equality House... located directly across from the Westboro Baptist Church... is a symbol of equality, peace, and positive change. [It]... serves as the resource center for all Planting Peace equality and anti-bullying initiatives and will stand as a visual reminder of our commitment, as global citizens, to equality for all."
Digital Journal reports that Jackson said: "As we all know, the Westboro Baptist Church puts a lot of hate into the world. Since we cannot stop them, the next best thing is to smother it with love."
He explained that members of the Westboro Church did not come out because they are not allowed to protest at a residential property.
He expressed satisfaction at the conduct of the ceremony, saying it was "absolutely perfect," and thanked local donors who made it possible. He said: "The community came out in droves and just showed their support, holding up signs expressing their support for the event. It was a really incredible thing to see."
Commenting on the gay couple, he said they project "a good reputation of the gay community, they've been together for five and a half years, and they've been waiting for their state or the higher courts to vote to overturn the anti-gay discrimination law. They seemed like a perfect fit and they were a perfect fit."
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