BOISE, Idaho — A U.S. Navy veteran can be buried with the ashes of her late partner in a southwest Idaho military cemetery after the state legalized gay marriage.
“It’s done,” 74-year-old Madelynn Lee Taylor said Wednesday after successfully completing paperwork to be buried at Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in Boise.
Taylor was previously denied permission to have her ashes interred with Jean Mixner because of Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage. The cemetery is owned and operated by the state.
Same-sex marriage became legal in the state on Oct. 15 when the ban was lifted by courts that determined it was unconstitutional.
Taylor had filed a lawsuit in federal court in July seeking to be buried with Mixner, who died in 2012. The case is now expected to be dismissed.
“Lee deserves credit for shining a powerful light on the injustice and indignity caused by Idaho’s former exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage,” her attorney Deborah Ferguson told the Spokesman-Review. “Her persistence, visibility and refusal to accept inequality are a model for us all.”
Cemetery Director James Earp on Wednesday welcomed Taylor, who has serious heart and lung problems and uses a cane, walker or scooter to get around. Earp helped Taylor through the paperwork and congratulated her with a handshake when it was done.
Taylor and Mixner met on a blind date in 1995 and married in California in 2008 when gay marriage was briefly legal there.
When Mixner got emphysema, she and Taylor made a promise: Whoever died first would be cremated and later buried with the other.
They chose the veterans cemetery because they knew it would be well maintained and decided on cremation and interment in a wall so their names and spot wouldn’t get covered over with weeds or grass. They wanted to be in Idaho, where their family could come to pay respects.
“It’s a good day — we get to get Jean out of the closet!” Taylor joked Wednesday after finishing the paperwork. “She’s dancing.”