Lesbian Couple Tie the Knot Across From Westboro Baptist Church
A lesbian couple rocked the vehemently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church on Saturday by holding a wedding ceremony across the street from the church's headquarters in Topeka, Kan., on the front lawn of the "Equality House" (a rainbow painted house that made national headlines in March) in order to promote marriage equality.
As the New York Daily News reports, Kimberly Kidwell and Katie Short tied the knot just 50 feet from the WBC's front door. Though gay marriage is not legal in Kansas, the couple held the ceremony with an ordained Baptist minister, who is also a lesbian, to raise awareness regarding gay rights in Kansas and the number of states that do not recognize marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Members of the WBC, who travel around the country to spread their anti-gay message -- often holding signs that read "God Hates Fags" -- didn't have to leave their home to protest this same-sex wedding. Though they kept somewhat quiet, they did put up signs in their front yards and hung upside-down American flags.
"No one came out of their compound," Rev. Robin Lunn, the Executive Director of the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists who performed Saturday's event, told the Daily News. "They just put up their ugly signs, and that was the extent of it."
The brides hardly paid attention to the WBC's efforts, the Huffington Post reports.
"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," said Kidwell.
About 100 guests came to the Equality House to support gay rights and the brides, who traveled from just north of Little Rock, Ark. A number of local businesses and community members helped out with the ceremony, donating flowers, the wedding cake, and music.
Aaron Jackson, a founder of the nonprofit Planting Peace organization, bought the house across from the WBC's headquarters in March, painted it with the colors of the rainbow and dubbed it the Equality House. Jackson said he wants the house to counteract the WBC and their anti-gay message.
"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," Jackson said, according to the Daily News. He added members of the WBC are "not allowed to protest a residential property."
"We wanted to help play a role in bringing light to this critical issue," he told the Huffington Post, regarding the Defense of Marriage and Proposition 8 cases before the Supreme Court. "None of us knows exactly how the court is going to rule, but no matter what they say, there is still a lot of work to be done."
Jackson found the women after he posted on Facebook, writing that he was looking for a couple to get married at the Equality House in order to raise awareness on gay rights. He explained that Kindwell and Short were ideal because they have "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."
Kidwell jumped at the opportunity to tie the knot in front of the WBC while raising awareness about marriage equality.
"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," she told HuffPo. "They’re real friendly here."
After the ceremony, the brides and the guests moved to the backyard for the reception. Kidwell told HuffPo that she remembers when a local reporter asked her if she had a message for the people of Topeka.
"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 publication. "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."
The WBC has taken to Twitter to further react to the wedding ceremony, calling the Equality House, the "Sodomite Rainbow House."
"We love all neighbors&tell them truth as they gather handily4 preaching. Stop lying 2 those dykes #WorthlessAdvisors," they tweeted with an image of a rainbow flag with the text, "FAG SIN" embroidered on to it.
Watch a clip of the ceremony below: