The story of a funeral service in Tampa, Florida, being canceled after it was revealed that the deceased man was gay is sparking outrage and anger from the man's partner and family, the Tampa Tribune reported Friday.
Julion Evans’ family got the call that his funeral would be canceled when they were gathered alongside his coffin at a funeral home. His memorial service was scheduled to begin hours later at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. But the church called to cancel.
The pastor who leads the Tampa, Florida, church, Rev. T. W. Jenkins, canceled the service that was scheduled for Aug. 2 after what he said were complaints from several parishioners, according to Evans’ partner, Kendall Capers. The parishioners apparently learned Evans was gay when the obituary listed Capers as his loving husband.
Capers said that he was told by the pastor that the funeral would be “blasphemous” because Evans was gay.
"We can't even have a dignified service like the next person could?" Capers said. "This is 2014 and we're still going through this."
Jenkins did not respond to several calls from the Tampa Bay Times for comment. No one answered the door at his Brandon, Florida home. The Tribune reports that a woman at the business office of Hope Missionary Baptist Church said the pastor was busy in meetings. When asked by the paper if a message could be left for him, she replied, "no comment."
Evans, 42, died in late July after a four-year battle with amyloidosis, an heredity illness that had previously claimed the lives of his father and brother.
Capers had lived with Evans for 17 years and the couple married last year in Maryland. Florida does not allow gay marriages.
Capers said Evans’ family had arranged the funeral at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church to accommodate the large crowd that they had expected.
Initially the church agreed, but reneged after the obituary was published.