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Gay man sues funeral home which refused to take his husband’s body

Joseph McCormick May 2, 2017
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A man is suing a funeral home because it refused to take his husband’s body, all because he was gay.

Roberty Huskey died in May 2016 due to complications related to a heart condition.

But after funeral arrangements were made by his nephew when it became clear that he was going to die, the Picayune Funeral Home in Mississippi refused to pick up Huskey’s body.

Jack Zawadski

Watch a video of Zawadski talking about the case below:

His widower Jack Zawadski, said on the day of Huskey’s death, the funeral home found out that he had been married to a man and refused to carry out its duties.

The couple were together for 52 years and were married.

Zawadski, helped by Lambda Legal, has now filed a lawsuit against the funeral home, alleging that the refusal to take the body was homophobic.

“I felt as if all the air had been knocked out of me,” Zawadski said in a statement on 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.”

The family were forced on the day of Huskey’s death to find another funeral home in the area, and were faced with the pressure that his body could not be left at the nursing home he had been staying in.

They then had to take the body to another funeral home nearly a hundred miles away.

The lawsuit names the funeral home as well as the parent company, Brewer Funeral Services, for breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent misrepresentation.

“John made all necessary arrangements before Bob’s passing in order to shield his 82-year-old uncle from additional suffering and to allow friends to gather to support Jack in his grief,” said Beth Littrel, an attorney with Lambda Legal.

“Instead, Bob’s peaceful passing was marred by turmoil, distress and indignity, adding immeasurable anguish to Jack and John’s loss. This should not have happened to them, and should not be allowed to happen again.”

Staff at the funeral home has told reporters from NBC that they have been told not to discuss the case.

The lawsuit is filed despite Mississippi not having any laws to forbid anti-LGBT discrimination at state level.

The state introduced a bill, HB1523, which protects businesses which discriminate against LGBT people based on religious beliefs.

“The state of anti-discrimination laws in Mississippi is virtually nonexistent. Certainly not in Picayune,” adds Littrell, who called the funeral home’s decision to refuse services to Huskey’s family “profoundly wrong.”

Watch a video of Zawadski talking about the case below:

Last year a funeral home won a case after sacking a trans woman who asked to wear women’s clothes after her transition.

More: funeral, funeral home, Mississippi, US

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