Jack Zawadski’s partner of 52 years had just died and it was time to make funeral arrangements.
But the 82-year-old says he was refused service by a funeral home in Picayune, Mississippi, where he and Robert Huskey had lived in for two decades.
‘I felt as if all the air had been knocked out of me,’ says Zawadski who has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Picayune Funeral Home.
‘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.’
Huskey and Zawadski got married in the summer of 2015 just a few months after same-sex marriage became legal in Mississippi.
Huskey’s health began to deteriorate and he died in a nursing home last May.
Although arrangements had been made in advance, the trouble began when the funeral home received paperwork from the nursing home identifying Zawadski as his husband.
It was then that the nursing home allegedly refused to pick up the body and perform the cremation.
The nursing home could not keep the body on site so Zawadski and a nephew scrambled to find another funeral home with an on-site crematorium.
The closest was 90 miles away. Adding to the stress Was finding another funeral home in Picayune that was willing to transport the body from the nursing home to Hattiesburg.
Lambda Legal has joined Zawadski in his lawsuit which seeks damages for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and the intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Their nephew John Gaspari had carefully made all necessary arrangements before Huskey’s death to protect Zawadski from additional suffering.
‘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,’ said Lambda Legal Counsel Beth Littrell.
‘What happened to this family is shocking.’
In a video released by lambda Legal, a tearful Zawadski says the funeral home ‘brought dishonor to my partner.’ He hopes the lawsuit ‘brings him some honor.’
An attorney for the funeral home said it is customary not to comment on pending litigation but tells Gay Star News he would make a exception because the case was quickly drawing so much attention.
‘We disagree with the portrayal of our client and categorically deny she made the statements attributed to her,’ says attorney Silas McCharen.
THIS IS MY COMMENT.
I wrote this comment – cut and paste to the funeral home and nearly EVERY Christian Church in this town. I could not get through to the Catholic Church.
This is NOT how Jesus would have reacted to a death. Jesus wept at the widow of Nain’s only son’s funeral. He did not ask her, “Is your son, gay?” He wept at the death of Lazarus. He did not ask Martha and Mary, “Is your brother gay?” Jesus replied to the lawyer when asked how to enter the Kingdom. His reply, “Love God, Love Neighbour and Love self.” The lawyer asked who is my neighbour because there were laws against Samaritans being ungodly and unclean. In fact, if a Samaritan touched a Jew, that Jew had to be cleansed by a priest in the Temple. Jesus drinks from the same cup as a Samaritan woman at the well, and puts the Samaritan as the hero over two priests who walked by the injured man. These Jewish priests knew the Torah and Old Testament by heart but had no love for neighbour. Jesus told us not to Judge and to love our neighbour. We do not get to pick and choose who our neighbour. Repent and hug that grieving gay widower. Show Jesus to him.