Mississippi Funeral Home Allegedly Refuses to Cremate Gay Man’s Husband’s Body
A gay man in Mississippi is suing a funeral home for refusing to cremate his 86-year-old husband’s body.
All of the arrangements were made for Zawadiski’s husband, Robert “Bob” Huskey, to be cremated. But, according to NBC News, when the Picayune Funeral Home discovered the same-sex couple was legally married, they refused the body.
“I didn’t realize that this was going to happen even,” Zawadiski says in the video statement, holding back tears. “I knew Bob was going to pass, but I didn’t know he was going to be denied.”
Zawadiski and Huskey were together for 52 years. They met in California in 1962 and were inseparable.
On August 17, 2015, the couple was finally able to wed in Hancock County, Mississippi. Soon after, Huskey’s health sadly deteriorated, and he was moved into a nursing home.
When it was known Huskey was near the end of his life, Zawadiski’s nephew, John Gaspari, stepped in to help with the arrangements.
“Uncle Jack is in his 80s. I tried to line everything up so it would be as seamless and as simple for him as possible,” Gaspari says.
“I had talked to the owner of the funeral home, had the agreement. Everything was planned out,” he continues. “The nursing home had called me and said, ‘John, we have a problem. They’re refusing to service him.’”
When the funeral home received paperwork for the couple’s marriage, they refused to take Huskey’s body.
"I felt as if all the air had been knocked out of me," Zawadski says. "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.
Zawadiski is suing Picayune Funeral Home and their parent company, Brewer Funeral Services, “for breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent misrepresentation.”
The lawsuit states Zawadiski had to find another funeral home with cremation services 90 miles away.
A Lambda Legal attorney, Beth Littrell, told NBC News: “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."
“No one should be put through what we were put through,” Zawadiski says.