Greg Bourke and Michael De Leon were two of the plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark case decided last year in the US Supreme Court, which ushered in marriage equality throughout the United States. They were legally married in Canada in 2004 and have two teenaged children, Isaiah and Bella.
Greg & Michael had recently submitted a design of a shared headstone for their joint plot in the St Michael Cemetery in Louisville KY. The design, pictured above, in addition to the personal information for both Greg & Michael, includes two wedding rings and the exterior of the US Supreme Court building in Washington DC.
The Burke-De Leons were notified by the executive director for Catholic cemeteries in the Archdiocese of Louisville, Javier Fajardo, that the design could not be approved for placement in the cemetery. Mr Fajardo stated in a letter to the couple that the “cemetery is a sacred place that serves the faithful and witnesses to the Good News of Jesus Christ and the hope we share in the resurrection…However, we cannot approve the depiction of the Supreme Court building and the use of the wedding rings…your proposed markings are not in keeping with this requirement.” Mr Fajardo said in the letter that the Burke-De Leons could have a shared headstone with their names and personal information, plus the symbol of the cross and are free to submit another proposal.
Greg & Michael understand that churches are free to discriminate because of protection clauses for religious bodies in fairness legislation, but are exploring the possibility of a legal challenge to the decision.