LIFE MATTERS MEDIA STAFF
An 82-year-old man is suing a southern Mississippi funeral home for reportedly refusing to accept the body of his husband because he was gay.
John Zawadski and his nephew filed the lawsuit against the owners of Picayune Funeral Home for breach of contract and emotional distress. According to the complaint, the funeral home backed out of a verbal agreement to provide services for Zawadski’s husband, Robert Huskey, who died in May 2016.
The lawsuit was filed in March and announced this week by law firm Lambda Legal, a nonprofit organization committed the LGBT community. There is no federal law protecting LGBT people from discrimination, so Democrats introduced the Equality Act of 2017 Tuesday, The Advocate reports.
The couple met in 1965 in California and married in July 2015, after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.
Unfortunately, less than two months into their marriage, Huskey’s health declined and he moved into a nursing home.
As he approached the end of his life, his nephew reportedly made arrangements with Picayune Funeral Home to transport his body from the nursing home after death – the funeral home was chosen for its on-site crematorium and proximity to friends and family.
However, after filing paperwork, including a document naming Zawadski as next of kin, the family received a call from the nursing home.
“The Nursing Home relayed to John that once received the paperwork indicating that Bob’s spouse was male, PFH refused service because it did not ‘deal with their kind,’ ” according to the lawsuit.
“They just had dishonor to my partner,” Zawadski says in a video released by Lambda. “And this, I hope, brings him some honor.”
Zawadski found another funeral home 90 minutes away, but because the nursing home did not have a morgue another funeral home had to transfer Huskey’s body.
“The turmoil and exigency created by Defendants in causing Plaintiffs to find alternative arrangements, as described above, permanently marred the memory of Bob’s otherwise peaceful passing,” according to the lawsuit.
Owners of the funeral home have denied the allegations.
Silas W. McCharen, an attorney for the owners of the funeral home, Ted and Henrietta Brewer, said in an email to The Washington Post that the funeral home never discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation.