Three months after the “Equality House” was set up across the street from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, the pro-LGBT organization managed to pay back Westboro just a little in the most fabulous way that it could: by holding a gay marriage right on its front lawn.
On Saturday, June 22nd, Kimberly Kidwell and Katie Short were married in a wedding ceremony at the “Equality House,” the rainbow-painted house bought by Aaron Jackson and used for his charity “Project Peace”. A couple of five-and-a-half years they wanted to show support for Jackson’s charity and the house’s mission.
The house, painted as a counter protest against Westboro and to remember LGBT youth who have committed suicide, has been celebrated for its courage and visibility. In contrast to public opinion on how Westboro runs their protests, this one is peaceful, respectful, and full of love. It collects donations to channel money into anti-bullying campaigns and LGBT community outreach programs. And it couldn’t be in a better spot.
The house was bought with courage and painted with just as much. Mike McKessor had to be contracted from Kansas City because no one in Kansas was willing to paint the house. A veteran, he took personal offense to how Westboro has protested at military funerals and painted the house to show his support for the cause and his disdain for the neighbors.
Kidwell and Short drove down from Arkansas, and along with 100 guests celebrated a union of love along with a large political statement, against Westboro, states with constitutional gay-marriage bans, and the federal government.
The wedding was held to raise awareness for the Supreme Court Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) decision that is forthcoming. Since Kansas is one of the states where gay marriage is outlawed by constitutional amendment, the wedding doesn’t have any legal standing, but it has all the force of annoyance and abhorrence as the well-known (and well-disliked) had to all but watch as it was held fifty feet from their front doors. Westboro is unable to protest on private property, so all the church group could do was post their famous anti-LGBT signs and say nothing.
Many across the country are waiting (some more impatient than others) to find out the DOMA ruling and, if overturned, how widespread the ruling will cause effects. The narrowest positive possibility is the overturning of just California’s law, with the widest having effects over the entire country and overturning constitutional amendments in several states like Kansas.
The wedding at “Equality House” was truly fitting for the occasion, and reminds the LGBT population and all of its allies that although the fight is about rights and equal standing, it comes first and foremost, from love that we all can understand.