May 3, 2017

A Business FollowingTheir Conscience: Funeral Home Refuses to Bury Gay Man

If there were not a law or if there was an exception because of religion or any other excuse this would happen again with like in the times of early AIDS. Bob’s husband now has a court that will listen to him and hopefully bring justice for him.
Brewer Funeral Services Inc. dab Picayune Funeral Home, as well as Ted Brewer and Henrietta Brewer are being sued for undisclosed sum

"I felt as if all the air had been knocked out of me," Zawadski said in a statement released Tuesday. "Bob was my life, and we had always felt so welcome in this community. And then, at a moment of such personal pain and loss, to have someone do what they did to me, to us, to Bob, I just couldn't believe it. No one should be put through what we were put through."

A lawsuit alleges a South Mississippi funeral home refused to provide services for a deceased man after the owners found out the man was gay.

Lambda Legal, a LGBTQ rights organization, announced Tuesday it had joined the lawsuit against Brewer Funeral Services Inc. dba Picayune Funeral Home, as well as Ted Brewer and Henrietta Brewer. The suit alleges breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and the intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Lambda filed on behalf of John Zawadski and John Gaspari. The lawsuit claims Picayune Funeral Home declined to provide any services for Zawadski’s husband, Robert Huskey, who died three days after his 86th birthday. Gaspari is listed as Huskey and Zawadski’s nephew in the lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks an undisclosed amount of monetary damages.

“What happened to this family is shocking,” said Beth Littrell of Lambda legal in a press release. “Almost immediately after losing his husband and partner of more than 50 years, Jack Zawadski’s grief was compounded by injustice and callous treatment from the very place that should have helped ease his suffering. Following Bob’s death, the funeral home, the only one in the area with a crematorium, refused to honor agreed-upon funeral arrangements after learning that Bob and Jack were married.”

Littrell said Zawadski and Huskey had been together for more than 50 years and had moved to Picayune about 20 years ago. They married in Mississippi after same-sex marriage bans nationwide were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015. In April 2016, after Huskey had fallen ill, his nephew made arrangements with the funeral home, according to Lambda Legal.

According to the lawsuit, the funeral home made repeated assurances they would take care of everything, but after Huskey’s death breached their agreements, communicating only that they did not “deal with their kind.”

The owners of the funeral home could not be reached for comment yesterday.

 Sun Herald
sand NBC

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