Just when you think you’ve seen it all, this happens. Gay man Jack Zawadski is suing the funeral home that refused to take his partner’s body after he passed. You a read that right, a funeral home went and made a grieving person’s life even more difficult just because he was gay.
Robert Huskey, Zawdaski’s partner of over 52 years, passed away in May 2016. Zawdaski’s nephew made the funeral arrangements and chose the Picayune Funeral Home in Mississippi. When the the funeral home discovered Huskey was gay, they refused to pick up his body. To add to the sadness and inconvenience, arrangements had to be made with another funeral home, almost 100 miles away.
A complaint was filed with the help of Lambda Legal on May 2, 2017. Zawdaski is suing Picayune Funeral Home as well as Brewer Funeral Services, their parent company. The law suit sites breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“I felt as if all the air had been knocked out of me,” the 86 year-old 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.”
Sadly, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of someone being denied a service because they are a member of the LGBTQ community (but we’re always hoping it’s the last). Just this week a bakery in Ireland refused to make a woman a “Gay Marriage Rocks,” cake that she was ordering for her friends’ engagement. To make matters worse, this same Christian bakery faced legal action in 2014 for refusing to make a cake for an International Day Against Homophobia event.
Currently Mississippi has no laws in place to protect LGBTQ people from going through situations like Zawdaski’s. House Bill 1523 grants companies the right to turn away patrons if they are doing so for religious reasons. Sadly, the United States may be seeing more discrimination like this in the future as Donald Trump signed the “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty,” executive order yesterday allowing religious organizations more freedom of political speech.