A lesbian Navy veteran is suing the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery for refusing to allow her to be buried with the ashes of her late wife.
Madelynn Taylor, 74, filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Boise, challenging Idaho state laws that prohibit her from being interred in a memorial wall with her wife, Jean Mixner, who died in 2012, the Associated Press reported.
The two married in California in 2008 when gay marriage was briefly legal, but cemetery employees still denied Ms. Taylor’s request because Idaho state law doesn’t recognize their marriage.
“Idaho is where some of our best memories together are and it’s where I want to spend eternity with Jean,” Ms. Taylor, who served in the Navy from 1958 to 1964, told The Washington Blade. “I could be buried here alone, but I don’t want to be alone. I want Jean with me forever.”
Ms. Taylor’s situation is “among the most extreme examples of the harm caused by state laws that deny respect to the marriages of same-sex couples,” Christopher Stoll, a senior attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is representing Taylor, told AP.
“Denying these important protections to committed couples is not simply unjust, it is needlessly cruel,” he said.
The lawsuit, filed by the center along with Boise attorneys Deborah Ferguson and Craig Durham, contends that Idaho’s anti-recognition laws violate the due process and equal protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution.
“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,” Ms. Ferguson said, The Blade reported. “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.”
Ms. Taylor’s legal team is the same that successfully sued earlier this year to overturn Idaho’s ban on gay marriages, AP reported.
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, has placed a stay on the ruling following an appeal from Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.