LANCASTER : Funeral Director Stops Refusing AIDS Deaths

Jim Mumaw, a Lancaster funeral home director who was criticized for refusing to handle AIDS-related deaths, has decided to drop the policy after consulting with federal officials.

Mumaw said Tuesday that Justice Department staff members in Washington, D.C., told him that he has been violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, which forbids discrimination against people with AIDS, their families and their friends.

"Yes, (the federal law) does say that I cannot turn down people due to the HIV virus alone," Mumaw said in a prepared statement. "Yes, I must comply with this law. Yes, I also have the right to disagree with that law and to use the system which is in place to voice my concerns, should I choose to."

Mumaw, 38, runs a small mortuary founded by his family in 1913. He was thrust into the spotlight this month when Lancaster activists cited his policy during a news conference concerning AIDS discrimination.

Mumaw said he has been referring AIDS-related deaths to other funeral homes because he is worried about the risk of infection and its impact on the children, ages 8 and 10, whom he is raising as a single father.

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