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.
His widower Jack Zawadski, said on the day of Huskey's death, the funeral home found out that he had been married to a man and refused to carry out its duties. Not even when they moved to MS 20 years ago to retire someplace warmer and more lush, or after they married in 2015, when the Supreme Court declared that gay couples have as much of a right as heterosexuals to marry.
Knowing the end was near, the couple's nephew in Colorado made arrangements with Picayune Funeral Home to cremate Husky after his death at the funeral home's on-site crematorium - the only crematorium in Pearl River County.
Following Huskey's death in May of past year, the nursing home called Gaspari and notified him that Picayune was refusing to pick up the body and perform the cremation after the nursing home had sent over paperwork listing Zawadski as Huskey's husband.
The lawsuit says an unidentified person at the funeral home then informed the nursing home that Huskey's body would not be picked up because the funeral home did not "deal with their kind".
"I felt as if all the air had been knocked out of me", Zawadski said in a statement on Tuesday. "We lived our lives quietly", he said in an interview. We put flowers on the graves for families who are out of town", Brewer told WLOX, "We didn't say, 'We don't deal with your kind.' We would never say that. Since the nursing home could not keep Bob's body on site, Jack and John had to scramble to locate another funeral home with an on-site crematorium.
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After being refused, the family was forced to find another funeral home, then a cremation service, which was 90 minutes away.
"John made all necessary arrangements before Bob's passing in order to shield his 82-year-old uncle from additional suffering and to allow friends to gather to support Jack in his grief", said Beth Littrel, an attorney with Lambda Legal.
"The turmoil and exigency created by Defendants in causing Plaintiffs to find alternative arrangements, as described above, permanently marred the memory of Bob's otherwise peaceful passing", the complaint said.
The lawsuit names the funeral home as well as the parent company, Brewer Funeral Services, for breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent misrepresentation. "We are here to guide you through the most hard time in your life and we take that responsibility seriously".
Staff at the funeral home has told reporters from NBC that they have been told not to discuss the case.
"We have buried and cremated gays before".
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"I knew Bob was going to pass", a tearful Zadawski said, "but I didn't know he was going to be denied".
"We will have our day in court".
Federal legislation introduced Tuesday would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which now bans discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion or national origin.
Littrell said the organization joined the lawsuit several weeks ago and decided to make public its involvement on Tuesday to commemorate the upcoming one-year anniversary of Huskey's death. Because neither MS law nor federal law explicitly forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the suit is relying on "other state laws that hopefully will provide a remedy for the awful actions that happened here", said Beth Littrell, the attorney handling the case.
"They're saying very bad, terrible things", Henrietta Brewer said.
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