Gay bar owner denied Catholic funeral services
March 19 2005 1:00 AM ET
Upon learning that deceased gay business owner John McCusker, 31, was the proprietor of two gay nightclubs in San Diego, the Roman Catholic diocese there has denied a proposed funeral for McCusker at the University of San Diego and refused to allow services in any local Catholic church, reports the San Diego Daily Transcript. McCusker, a member of the Greater San Diego Business Association and owner of Club Montage and ReBar, died March 13 after suffering an apparent heart attack while at the Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort in California. The Mono County coroner's office said an official cause of death is pending the outcome of a toxicology report. McCusker was a 1996 graduate of USD, and his family wanted to have the funeral service there but was denied after church officials received information about him and his businesses. Joyce Marieb, executive director of the Greater San Diego Business Association, called McCusker, "a great leader and the kind of guy that people love to see because he gives back and is very generous to the community." She told the Daily Transcript, "We all know what this is about. They [the Catholic Church] claim they've buried other gay people and that it's because of the bar aspect." A statement released earlier Thursday by Rodrigo Valdivia, chancellor for the diocese of San Diego, explains the church's actions. "The facts regarding the business activity of John McCusker were not known by church officials when arrangements were requested for his funeral. When these facts became known, the bishop of San Diego concluded that to avoid public scandal Mr. McCusker can't be granted a funeral in a Catholic church or chapel in the diocese of San Diego." Marieb said she is surprised the church is refusing to show respect to a man who did so much others. "Everybody loved him; it's a large loss for our community," Marieb said. "You'll see the outpouring of the community at the services." Marieb also said there will be a community meeting on Monday at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center of San Diego to discuss this issue. McCusker's memorial service was scheduled for 11 a.m. March 18 at St. Paul's Cathedral, an Episcopal church.