An 82-year-old man is suing a
Mississippi funeral home that he says refused to cremate his husband.
John “Jack” Zawadski and his nephew
John Gaspari filed the lawsuit against Picayune Funeral Home in
According to the complaint, the funeral
home backed out of a verbal agreement to provide final services for
Robert Huskey, 86, last year. After a faxed-in form identified
Zawadski as Huskey's husband, the company allegedly told the nursing
home where Huskey died that they did not “deal with their kind.”
“It was devastating,” Zawadski
told the AP. “It was like losing an arm and throwing in the
The men who met in 1965 married in
Picayune on July 17, 2015, shortly after the Supreme Court found in
Obergefell that gay men and lesbians have a constitutional
right to marry.
The funeral has denied the claims,
saying in a court filing that the lawsuit “was filed without
substantial justification, is frivolous, and is groundless in fact
Gaspari said that he took on the
funeral arrangements to spare his Uncle Jack and thought everything
was taken care of when a nursing home staffer called to inform him
that the funeral home refused to take Huskey's body.
“I was just kind of in shock –
What? What are you talking about?” said Gaspari, who scrambled to
find alternative arrangements from Denver.
“My uncles didn't travel much without
each other, and kissed each other good night each and every night.
They never went to bed angry with each other. And something like
this happens,” Gaspari said.
Lambda Legal is representing Zawadski
in the claim, which seeks damages for breach of contract and
emotional distress. Lawyers cannot claim discrimination based on
sexual orientation because Mississippi does not have such a law.