A large banner calling for “Marriage Equality Now” was removed from the front of the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Rocky River over the weekend of Oct. 18-20, according to a statement released by church officials. Parish co-minister Wayne Arnason has called this an act of “political vandalism.”
The banner had hung for more than two years near the front entrance of the church, facing Hilliard Boulevard, a major traffic artery through the city and into Westlake. A companion banner with the Unitarian Universalist motto, “Standing on the side of love,” remained in place. Church officials estimate that the theft occurred sometime between Friday night and Sunday morning, when it was noticed to be missing.
Co-minister Kathleen Rolenz said that the banner reflected a longstanding commitment to marriage as a civil right for all people on the part of the Westshore church and the Unitarian Universalist Association.
“Our denomination first took a stand on marriage equality in 1998, and West Shore has supported that position ever since. Although our membership overwhelmingly identifies as heterosexual, our LGBTQ members include many couples who have had to travel to other states to get legally married. They should be able to do this in Ohio,” Rolenz stated.
A police report has been filed, but there are no suspects. Arnason says that whoever took the banner may return it, with no questions asked. “If it was taken down by a person who disagrees with our stand on marriage equality, we assure you that there will be a new banner up in that same spot as soon as we can get one made. We are receiving contributions to support the new banner, and any excessive funds received will be given to Equality Ohio’s campaign to bring marriage equality to our state,” he added.