HRC Blog

Lesbian Veteran Denied Burial With Wife

Post submitted by Chloe Stokes, HRC Digital Media Intern.

Madelynn Taylor, 74, wishes to be buried alongside her now-deceased wife of 17 years in her hometown of Boise, Idaho. After serving in the Navy for 6 years, Taylor has earned the right to be buried in the Idaho Veterans Cemetery, but her wife cannot join her because state law doesn’t recognize their marriage.   

Taylor and her wife, Jean Mixner, were wed in a civil ceremony in Oregon in 1995, and again, legally, in California in 2008.

“I’m not surprised,” Taylor told CBS affiliate KBOI. “I’ve been discriminated against for 70 years, and they might as well discriminate against me in death as well as life.”

The Division of Veterans Services claims that they must follow state law, which asserts “a marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

Same-sex couples can be buried together at national veterans’ cemeteries, but state cemeteries must follow state law. Idaho is one of 33 states that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages.

“I don’t see where the ashes of a couple of old lesbians is going to hurt anybody,” Taylor said. 

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