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Gay man sues Mississippi funeral home for refusing to cremate his husband

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A gay Mississippi man recently filed a lawsuit against a Mississippi funeral home, alleging that the business refused to cremate his husband because the crematory would not "deal with their kind."

John Zawadski filed the lawsuit against Picayune's Brewer Funeral Home and its owners for emotional distress and breach of contract.

In the lawsuit, Zawadski claims that he and the funeral home engaged in a verbal agreement to make the final arrangements for Zawadski's dying husband, Robert Huskey, and claimed that the funeral home backed out of the deal after finding out that Huskey and Zawadski were gay.

As a result, Zawadski said that the memorial service for his husband had to be cancelled, and the cremation had to take place at a funeral home 90 miles away in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

"I felt as if all the air had been knocked out of me,"  Zawadski said in a statement through his legal team. "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."

The lawsuit alleged that the funeral home was accommodating to Zawadski's requests up until the time that they received the paperwork from the nursing home where Huskey passed away — paperwork which stated that Huskey's spouse was a man.

Zawadski's suit stated that the "turmoil" created by the funeral home had "permanently marred the memory of Bob's otherwise peaceful passing."

Zawadski said that the two had met in 1965 and were together until Huskey's death at age 86 in May 2016. The couple were legally married in July 2015.

Henrietta Brewer, however, co-owner and manager of the Brewer Funeral Home adamantly denied that she or her staff refused services to Zawadski or Huskey.

Mississippi Today reported that the funeral home denied all of the claims levied against them in Zawadski's lawsuit.

"We just didn't do that. We just keep saying, 'Why us?' We're the ones that treat everyone good," Brewer told Mississippi Today. "We don't even think that, so we'd never say it. And our employees don't think that either."

Brewer said that her family funeral home has performed final services for "well over a dozen" gay people in the last 10 years and that one gay man is even buried in a cemetery owned by the funeral home.

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