A Mississippi widow who lost his husband has alleged a local funeral home refused to cremate his body because he was gay.
Jack Zawadski and Robert Huskey – known as Bob – were a loving couple of 52 years who retired to Picayune, Mississippi 20 years ago.
Bob passed away in May 2016 of a heart condition, and Huskey’s nephew made arrangements with a local funeral home a month before his passing.
But on the day of his death, the Picayune Funeral Home suddenly refused to pick up the body as planned, with the funeral home saying they don’t “deal with their kind” and leaving Jack and his family to make alternative arrangements, according to a lawsuit by firm Lambda Legal.
The suit seeks damages for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and the intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Jack said in a statement he felt “as if all the air had been knocked out of me.”
“Bob was my life, and we had always felt so welcome in this community,” he said.
“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.”
Lambda Legal attorney Beth Littrell said: “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.
“Instead, Bob’s peaceful passing was marred by turmoil, distress and indignity, adding immeasurable anguish to Jack and John’s loss.”
In a response published by the Washington Post, the owners of the Picayune Funeral Home denied the allegations.
Last year Mississippi signed the controversial House Bill 1523, or “Religious Accommodations Act,” that protects the rights of businesses to turn away LGBTI customers on the basis of religious freedom.