Madelynn Taylor is a 74-year-old US — United States — Navy veteran who met Jean Mixner in 1995, and married her in California in 2008, but all hell broke loose when Jean died in 2012.
Taylor, who had Jean cremated, decided that when she dies, she’d like to be buried in Idaho’s Veterans Cemetery and have Jean’s ashes interred with her, but the state has said she cannot do that because same-sex marriage is illegal in Idaho.
Taylor contacted Idaho Veterans Cemetery last fall to reserve a single plot for both she and her wife, but was told that they could not be buried together; now, it’s not an issue of space, because Taylor will also be cremated when the time comes and the two urns could easily fit in the same niche in the cemetery. It’s a simple question of ‘recognition.’ Since the Idaho state constitution bans same-sex marriage the state doesn’t recognize Taylor and Mixner as a married couple, and since the state refuses the recognize them as such, the state cemetery is following suit, and refusing to honor Taylor’s request, saying they must abide by the Idaho state constitution.
“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." — Madelynn Taylor
Madelynn Taylor spent six years in the Navy before being dishonorably discharged under Don't Ask Don't Tell [DADT] when her superiors learned she was gay; she had that amended to an honorable discharge following the repeal of DADT.
To be clear, however, both Taylor and Mixner could be buried together in a national military cemetery — because their marriage is federally recognized — but Taylor wants to be buried in Boise where there are family close by.
Madelynn Taylor has chosen to go public with her story in the hope it will move legislators to act, and she has joined the Add The Four Words — a campaign to add the words ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ to Idaho’s Human Rights Act. The group has been holding silent protests in the Idaho capitol building since 2010 and Madelynn Taylor was even arrested as one of those protests last month.
But Madelynn Taylor may have the last word on the subject, because, if legislators don’t act before she dies, she has asked a friend to hold onto both their ashes so that they can be interred together when Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage finally comes to an end.
And it will. Idaho will, one day, sooner rather than later, recognize that Madelynn Taylor and Jean Mixner were a married couple and deserved to be treated as such in life, and in death.
“I'm a stroke waiting to happen. I don't see where the ashes of a couple old lesbians is going to hurt anyone.” — Madelynn Taylor
It shouldn’t make a difference at all.