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David Hefner; AIDS Victim at Center of Controversy

May 09, 1987|From Times Wire Services

NEW YORK — David Hefner, an AIDS patient who renewed wedding vows with his wife at St. Patrick's Cathedral in February, despite initial opposition from the church, has died.

Hefner, who was 38 and described himself as a one-time homosexual, died last Sunday, a year after he was diagnosed as suffering from acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

Hefner and his wife, Maria, became the center of controversy after their request to hold the ceremony in the 5th Avenue cathedral was rejected.

St. Patrick's is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.

Hefner said at the time: "I cannot understand how the church of God would do something like this. If I were a killer, a hired murderer or a thief--but I'm just a person who happens to have a sickness."

In the midst of protest by civil rights activists, as well as Protestant and Roman Catholic clergy, several of whom invited the couple to be married in their churches, Cardinal John O'Connor reversed the decision.

Hefner, a Protestant, in making the request that the ceremony be held in St. Patrick's, said his Catholic wife had always wanted a wedding at her "dream church." He had been her hairdresser when they married in a civil ceremony in 1984.

The ceremony, held on Valentine's Day, was attended by O'Connor. Hefner appeared pale and emaciated but said, "I feel great." His wife, who wore a gold wedding dress, wiped away tears.

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