Updated after the jump: Sassy retaliation!

Of all L.A. neighborhoods, you'd think at least free-wheelin' Hollywood (well, and its sister city to the West) would be a safe place to pray to whomever we choose while loving whomever we choose — a simple concept with big conservative enemies.

That's what the progressive Hollywood United Methodist Church, located on the corner of Franklin Avenue and North Highland Avenue, has always been about; theirs is a refreshingly open-minded take on tradition. So it was a real bummer, yesterday evening, to find out that some asshole had decided to subject his/her own homophobic self-loathing onto such an awesome community — the kind that makes Los Angeles the place to be.

A photo of the damage:

Credit: Hollywood United Methodist Church

Credit: Hollywood United Methodist Church

The vandal did a clean cut-job around the word “EQUALITY” — changing the message of the six-foot-by-eight-foot banner from “THIS CHURCH SUPPORTS MARRIAGE EQUALITY” to “THIS CHURCH SUPPORTS MARRIAGE.” It's an obvious stab at the currently up-for-debate right of Californians to have same-sex, but otherwise traditional, marriage.

After the hateful rectangle of negative space was discovered yesterday, church officials released an uplifting statement:

“As a church we do believe in marriage. But until everyone — and that means everyone — has the right to marry the one you love, regardless of gender, we will proclaim with our hearts and souls, and yes, our banners, that we believe in marriage equality.”

Sigh. No matter how hard you fight, you're going to get the immature wackjobs who think shit like this is funny. We've contacted Reverend Kathy Cooper-Ledesma to see how much repairs will cost, and whether the investigation has any leads — so stay tuned.

Update: Hollywood United Methodist Church member and marketing coordinator Chad Darnell says the church will throw it right back in the anti-equality wise guy's face with a banner that says: “Dear vandals: You can cut the word equality out of a banner, but you can't cut the message out of the church.”

Touche. Darnell says a private donor offered the few hundred dollars it'll take to have the new one made — and in the interim, they'll put up the familiar “No H8” banner that served as a safety flag during the “No on Prop. 8” campaign.

Now, for extra pizzaz, they'll also write “Have you seen our equality?” across it.

Oh this old thing?

Credit: Hollywood United Methodist Church

Credit: Hollywood United Methodist Church

Turns out the “equality” banner had to be taken down today anyway, as “Welcome to People,” the upcoming Michelle Pfeiffer and Chris Pine movie, will be shooting on the front lawn. No biggie.

The Hollywood sanctuary is sort of a star-studded affair in general: Actress and church member Pauley Perrette, of “NCIS” and Justin Bieber Twitpic fame, recently wore a “No H8” dress to the “People's Choice Awards.” Like we said, no biggie.

After yesterday's vandalism, Darnell says, “The support — from all over the country — has been tremendous… [partly] because the picture [of the banner] was picked up in the news, especially by gay news websites.”

The church just filed a police report this morning, after being asked by a reporter if they'd done so.

“We just saw it as being a jerk — we didn't actually see it as being a crime,” he says.

Originally posted at 8:50 a.m.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.

LA Weekly