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US: Veteran files suit challenging Idaho law preventing her from being buried with her wife

Katie Dupere July 7, 2014

An Idaho woman filed a lawsuit Monday challenging a state law that prohibits her from being buried in the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery with her late wife.

Madelynn Taylor, a 74-year-old Navy veteran, married her late wife Jean Mixner in 2008 in California. In 2013, Taylor attempted to make advanced arrangements to have her remains placed with Mixner’s at the cemetary, a right that is given to other military veterans and their spouses.

Idaho does not recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, leading cemetery employees to deny Taylor’s request to be buried with her spouse.

The lawsuit, filed on Taylor’s behalf by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and attorneys Deborah Ferguson and Craig Durham, argues that Idaho state law is violating the United States constitutional guarantee of equal protection and due process by not recognizing marriages that have occurred in other states.

In a National Center for Lesbian Rights press release, Taylor said: “Idaho is where some of our best memories together are and it’s where I want to spend eternity with Jean. I could be buried here alone, but I don’t want to be alone. I want Jean with me forever.”

Ferguson said in the statement: “It is inexcusable that the State of Idaho refuses to honor the wishes of a veteran of our armed forces to be buried together with her spouse. The state’s disrespect for a veteran’s honorable service to our country is one of the clearest examples of the harm and indignity that Idaho’s discriminatory marriage laws inflict on same-sex couples throughout the state. The state’s treatment of Ms Taylor and her late wife violates the most basic principles of equality and respect for human dignity enshrined in our Constitution.”

Taylor was hopeful she would finally be given permission to be buried with her wife, following the striking down of the state’s same-sex marriage ban in May. 

However, a mere two days after ban was overturned by a federal judge, an appeals court stayed the decision, stopping weddings a day before they were due to begin.

More: Americas, Craig Durham, Deborah Ferguson, IDAHO, Idaho State Veteran's Cemetary, Madelynn Taylor, national center for lesbian rights, US

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