Two days before the funeral of Julion Evans, 42, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa decided to cancel. This decision came after the pastor learned the deceased was gay and his obituary listed a surviving husband.
Julie Atwood, mother of Evans, says she was baptized at the church as a child and several of her family members still attend. She learned about the shocking news while visiting her sons casket.
It was devastating," she said. "I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death."
Kendall Capers, was the 17 year partner of deceased Evans and the pair married last year in Maryland. Capers says the newspaper named him as husband because their marriage was no secret.
"Everyone who knew us knew about our relationship," he said. "We didn't keep secrets."
T.W. Jenkins, pastor at New Hope says he was not aware that Evans had a husband or was gay until members of his congregation saw the obituary and called to complain. They did not think it was right to have the funeral at their church.
Jenkins said his church preaches against gay marriage.
"Based on our preaching of the scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church," Jenkins said. "I'm not trying to condemn anyone's lifestyle, but at the same time, I am a man of God, and I have to stand up for my principles."
Capers says the family scrambled but managed to put together a new service. But with only 24 hours notice, many mourners were not notified and did not make it to the new location.
"This is 2014, this is not the 60s or the 70s,” Capers said. “So at the end of the day I just want his wrong-doing to be exposed.”