A 74-year-old Navy veteran is suing after she was denied the right to be buried with her same-sex partner in the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery.
Madelynn Taylor wants to be interred with the ashes of her late wife Jean Mixner, but Idaho does not allow gay veterans to be buried with their spouses.
Taylor filed a civil rights lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Boise.
The couple married in California in 2008, when it was briefly legal. Other federal veterans cemeteries do allow for same-sex couple to be interred together, but not the state-run cemetery in Idaho.
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Taylor wants a judge to order the cemetery to allow her ashes to be interred on a memorial wall with Mixner, who died in 2012.
Christopher Stoll, a senior attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, says Taylor’s case is “among the most extreme examples of the harm caused by state laws that deny respect to the marriages of same-sex couples.”
“Denying these important protections to committed couples is not simply unjust, it is needlessly cruel,” he said.
The NCLR argues that Idaho’s failure to recognize their marriage rights violates due process and equal protection under the Constitution.
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Taylor says her health is currently deteriorating. With heart and lung problems, she must use a cane or walker to get around.
When Mixner was diagnosed with emphysema, the couple made a promise to each other: “Whichever one went first is supposed to wait by the eastern gate. So she’ll be up there by the eastern gate waiting for me now.”
She says they chose the Veterans Cemetery because they knew it was well maintained and Idaho because it was where their families could come to visit.