TOPEKA, Kan. — A lesbian couple from Arkansas married Saturday on the front lawn of the Equality House in Tokepa, Kan., across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church, home of the “God hates fags” activist group.
Kimberly Kidwell, 31, and Katie Short, 27, of Sherwood, Ark., exchanged vows at a ceremony hosted by Planting Peace, a nonprofit humanitarian organization, and who owns the rainbow-striped “Equality House” across from the Westboro compound.
Kidwell and Short, who have been together five years, had responded to a Facebook post from Planting Peace asking for a loving same-sex couple to participate in a public wedding at Equality House ahead of the pending U.S. Supreme Court decisions on Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Kidwell told LGBTQ Nation she and Short were honored to have been selected by Planting Peace to bost their ceremony. the pool of potential candidates.
She also noted that in her and her wife’s eyes, this was not a symbolic marriage despite the fact that both Kansas and their home state of Arkansas have laws prohibiting same-sex marriages and civil unions.
“This isn’t about that little piece of paper — although having that would be great — it’s about sending a message to the Supreme Court and others that our love and commitment is just as real as anyone else,” she said.
Kidwell, a first responder EMT with an ambulance company, said that her hometown, particularly her colleagues and the local firefighters she works with, have been supportive of the couple’s wedding, and that most of the wedding services were donated by local Topeka businesses.
A video of the ceremony is here:
“We are happy to play a part in bringing together two people that are very much in love with each other. It is unfortunate that our government views these two committed people as second class citizens,” Planting Peace founder Aaron Jackson told LGBTQ Nation.
“The Supreme Court session on marriage equality will be ruled upon in the very near future. It is our desire, by hosting this wedding, to send a clear message to the Supreme Court that equality should be for all,” he said.
Kidwell said there was muted reaction to the couple’s wedding from Westboro. She said Shirley-Phelps-Roper, daughter of church founder Fred Phelps, did make a quick appearance and agreed to take pictures with Planting Peace Staff, but declined to mingle with the brides and their guests.