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Gay veteran denied right to be buried with wife in Idaho cemetery

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Widowed Lesbian Navy Vet Told She Can't Be Buried With Her Wife

Widowed Lesbian Navy Vet Told She Can't Be Buried With Her Wife

Madelynn Taylor, 74, served six years in the United States Navy. When she passes away, she says, she wants to be buried with the ashes of her late wife, Jean Mixner, in the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery.

But there's a problem. Because gay marriage isn't recognized in Idaho, Taylor's wish has been denied, even though the cemetery allows opposite-sex spouses to be buried or interred with veterans, KBOI.com reports. 

"I'm not surprised," Taylor said to KBOI.com. "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," she continued. The couple were first married in 1995 and then legally married again in California in 2008. Mixner died in 2012.

"I could take the same documents and get buried in Arlington if I needed to, with no problems," Taylor told KHOU.com. "But here they said it's a state veterans cemetery, not a national cemetery. So we have to go by the state laws. So, we gotta change the state laws."

Idaho's governor, C.L. "Butch" Otter, confirmed the state law wouldn't allow the couple to be buried together.

"The veteran’s cemetery rules require a valid marriage certificate in order for a spouse to be buried with a veteran. Idaho’s Constitution does not recognize same-sex marriage," Otter said in a statement released on Thursday. "The voters spoke in 2006 by passing an amendment to our Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. I am defending their decision and the Idaho Constitution in federal court, so I’m not going to comment any further."

Taylor says she will continue to speak out against the rule. She told KBOI.com that she recently joined the Add the 4 Words protest, a movement that seeks to add the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to Idaho's human rights act.

"Normally I stammer and stutter myself. I'm not a public speaker," Taylor told KHOU.com. "I'm a background person. I work in the background. What's changed is I got mad at the cemetery and decided it's time to do something about it."

Taylor says she has no intention of being buried in the veterans cemetery without her late spouse. Should she pass away before the state law is changed, she wants her family to hold her ashes and Mixner's until a time in which they are allowed to be together.

"Eventually I'm going to be there. It'll happen. They might as well give up and let us go now," Taylor told KHOU.com.

A total of 33 states, including Idaho, prohibits same-sex couples from marrying and does not recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere, according to MSNBC.

Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).

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