Suit filed against Picayune Funeral Home alleges gay discrimination

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A lawsuit filed in the Pearl River County Circuit Court alleges that the owners of Picayune Funeral Home declined to provide end of life services to a gay man, but the owners of the local business say the suit is not factual.
The case was filed in the local court on March 7 of this year, listing John Zawadski
and John Gaspari as the plaintiffs, and Picayune Funeral Home and its owners as the defendants.
Lambda Legal, an organization that works for the civil rights of the LGBT community, issued a press release stating an agreement had been made between Gaspari and the funeral home to provide cremation services for Robert Huskey, Zawadski’s husband, but then denied it allegedly after receiving documentation that Huskey and Zawadski were married.
Huskey passed away in May of 2016, according to the release. It’s currently unclear why the suit was not filed until March of this year.
The release from Lambda states Gaspari said it was the nursing home that called to say the funeral home was refusing to provide funeral services to Huskey.
Henrietta Brewer, one of the owners of Picayune Funeral Home, said the lawsuit makes false claims against her business, especially since the funeral home has provided funeral services to anyone and everyone who requested them.
While she couldn’t go into great detail, Brewer said her legal team is building a defense to show the lawsuit is frivolous and based on false claims.
“We have never discriminated against a soul,” Brewer said.
Stories about the suit are being published by news agencies nationwide as of Tuesday afternoon, and the attention has created an extra stressful situation for Brewer and her staff. She said staff members are being harassed by unknown callers as a result of the media attention.
“Everyone that knows us can’t believe they’re targeting us,” Brewer said.
A call to Lambda for comment on the case was deferred to the organization’s legal counsel, Beth Littrell, who had not returned a request for comment by press time Tuesday.

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