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Gay couple say Archdiocese of Louisville discriminate against them

Published: May. 18, 2016 at 4:39 PM EDT|Updated: May. 18, 2016 at 6:38 PM EDT
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The design of the rejected tombstone (Source: Greg Bourke and Michael De Leon)
The design of the rejected tombstone (Source: Greg Bourke and Michael De Leon)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) -  From one battle to another.

A gay couple instrumental in the national legalization of gay marriage is now fighting to get the headstone they designed into the cemetery of their choice. The two claim the Archdiocese of Louisville is discriminating against them. Today, the presented their case.

"When we asked about this we were informed that new guidelines for memorials were being developed for same sex couples," Greg Burke said.

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Burke and Michael De Leon designed their headstone with the images of the Supreme Court of the United States and wedding bands. But the Archdiocese rejected the design saying the images go against the teachings of the Catholic Church on marriage.

"It's pretty clear when you read the letter that this is a clear case of LGBT discrimination," Burke said.

In a press conference on Ellison Avenue outside St. Michael Cemetery, Burke showed pictures of other headstones with images of the UK emblem and Big Blue Nation, Churchill Downs and motorcycles. He asked how are these OK but the Supreme Court is not?

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The Archdiocese of Louisville responded with a letter saying:

"As with all markers in Catholic Cemeteries, determination as to the appropriateness of inscriptions or symbols is the judgment of the Executive Director of Catholic Cemeteries in consultation with the proper Church authority.

"In this case, the judgment was made that the depiction presented was not in keeping with Church teaching about marriage. Mr. Burke and Mr. De Leon are welcome to present another headstone design for approval."

Burke said he and his husband De Leon waited to come forward to process what was happening.

"We wanted to see if there might be any kind of a legal challenge that we can make," Burke said. "Honestly there are legal protection laws, there's an exclusion in the fairness ordinance that protect religious organizations, so that they have a license to discriminate."

Burke says since they don't have legal recourse they hope they can make an appeal to the Archdiocese so that one day they can be laid to rest how they wanted - by the rest of his relatives in St. Michael Cemetery.

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