When will the discrimination end? On the day of her son's wake, the day before his funeral, Julie Atwood received a troubling and terrible phone call: the church had canceled her son's funeral
service because he was an openly gay and married man. His obituary listed a surviving husband.
Atwood was told it would be blasphemous for the church to hold a funeral for an openly gay individual.
"It was devastating," Atwood confessed. "I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death."
Julion Evans, 42, and his partner, Kendall Capers, had been together for 17 years before getting married in Maryland last year. He died after his 4-year battle with Amyloidosis, a rare disease that destroys the body's inner organs.
When Atwood first came to their pastor, requesting he preach at Evans' service, he accepted, but said his own church would be too small to fit all of the couple's loved ones. So they went over to New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, who agreed to hold the service to celebrate the life of Atwood's son.
Then they saw the obituary naming Capers as Evans' surviving husband.
The church balked, calling Pastor Jenkins to complain. How could he ask them to host the funeral of an openly gay and married man? The pastor agreed that the church's commitment to discrimination was more important than the grief and loss of a family. He made the call not because he was a cruel man, but because he's a "man of God."
Although the family did their best to make new arrangements for Evans, not everyone who was given an invitation was notified in time. This caused several guests to miss the funeral entirely.
Capers, Evans' widow, would have understood New Hope's decision if they had refused when they first approached the church, but to do so after the fact was "disrespectful."
"This is 2014, this is not the 60s or the 70s," Capers said. "So at the end of the day I just want his wrong-doing to be exposed."
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