Rescue Mission Won't Turn Away Same-Sex Couples ; Feaker Says Mission Has Served Gays, Lesbians and Transsexuals

By Anderson, Phil | The Topeka Capital-Journal, November 18, 2014 | Go to article overview

Rescue Mission Won't Turn Away Same-Sex Couples ; Feaker Says Mission Has Served Gays, Lesbians and Transsexuals


Anderson, Phil, The Topeka Capital-Journal


As news broke Monday that a Kansas City, Mo.-based homeless shelter wouldn't house same-sex couples based on its biblical views, the question was turned to the capital city.

What would the Topeka Rescue Mission do?

"We won't turn them away," said the Rev. Barry Feaker, executive director of the mission, 600 N. Kansas Ave. "We'll find a place for them somewhere at the mission."

That being said, Feaker also was quick to point out that same- sex couples might not be housed together, based on cramped quarters at the mission, which has between 250 and 300 overnight guests most nights.

As it stands now, Feaker said, heterosexual couples without children frequently aren't allowed to stay together, as lack of space at the mission's Hope Center -- for women, children and families -- is at a premium. Women would stay in the Hope Center and men in the men's shelter.

Feaker said the mission deals with all kinds of people and provides housing for those who come through its doors, regardless of their backgrounds.

Many mission guests arrive after getting out of jail, others after being dismissed from mental facilities.

The mission has housed gay, lesbian and transsexual people in the past and will continue to do so.

The new twist, Feaker said, is the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Because of the wide variety of backgrounds represented by its guests, Feaker said, the mission has a long-standing policy of asking those who stay there to be respectful of other guests and not to behave in ways that could be offensive to others.

Feaker said this policy applies to all mission guests, including heterosexual couples, who are discouraged from public acts of affection.

Officials at the Topeka Rescue Mission, who haven't allowed unmarried couples to stay together at the shelter, are considering a policy for legally married same-sex couples. The matter was to be addressed at Monday night's board meeting.

"The Topeka Rescue Mission has and will continue to shelter the homeless regardless of who they are or where they're coming from," Feaker said. "A homeless person is homeless, and a hungry person is hungry."

Safety is the top priority at the mission, Feaker said, it comes about when people realize they are guests on a temporary basis, just like all the other individuals who are housed there. …

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