The Idaho State Veterans Cemetery is refusing to allow a lesbian couple to be buried together because of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Madelynn Taylor, 74, served in the Navy from 1958 to 1964 and hopes her late wife’s ashed could be buried beside hers when she passes away, but the Idaho Division of Veterans Services rejected her application.
Since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act, veteran same-sex couples can be buried together in any national cemetery, but the state cemetery claims it is bound by state law. Taylor, who described herself to KBOI as a “stroke waiting to happen,” explained that she is used to such discrimination:
TAYLOR: I’m not surprised. I’ve been discriminated against for 70 years, and they might as well discriminate against me in death as well as life… I don’t see where the ashes of a couple old lesbians is going to hurt anyone.
Taylor met her wife, Jean Mixner, in 1995. They held a ceremonial wedding that very year, then legally married in California during the window before Proposition 8 passed. Mixner passed away in 2012, and Taylor keeps her ashes at home.
Because of some upcoming surgery, Taylor is worried that the issue could be quite timely, but she has arranged for a guardian for her and her wife’s remains to ensure her fight continues even if she is no longer around to fight it. She hopes she and her spouse can be buried together in her hometown.
LGBT advocates have been pressuring the Idaho legislature to “add the four words” — sexual orientation and gender identity — to the state’s nondiscrimination law, often by holding silent protests that block access to offices in the State Capitol. Even if such a law were to pass, Idaho’s state constitution would still pose an obstacle to Taylor because it dictates that “a marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”
Watch KBOI’s report on Taylor’s effort: