Idaho Veteran Denied Burial Site For
Lesbian Spouse Offered Plot By Fellow Vet
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[May 01, 2014]
By Laura Zuckerman
SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) — A retired U.S.
Army colonel on Wednesday offered up his burial plot in the Idaho State
Veterans Cemetery to a veteran barred by state marriage laws and
military rules from interring her ashes and those of her dead lesbian
The push by U.S. Navy veteran Madelynn Taylor and a woman she
married out-of-state comes as four Idaho lesbian couples are
challenging the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and
a broader debate over gay nuptials nationwide.
Taylor told a Boise TV station the state military cemetery denied
the pair burial as they did not have the Idaho marriage license
required under its rules. Her longtime lesbian partner, Jean Mixner,
died in 2012.
"I am happy to give my fellow veteran that small peace of mind,"
retired U.S. Army Colonel Barry Johnson, a 27-year veteran, wrote in
an open letter published on Wednesday in the Idaho Statesman
newspaper. "And I do it to honor all the great Americans I've served
with along the way — gay, straight, whatever."
It was unclear if the cemetery would allow the transfer. The Idaho
Division of Veterans Services said the cemetery's policy remains
Taylor was undergoing surgery at a veterans hospital in Seattle on
Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.
Earlier this month, Taylor told KBOI, the Boise TV station, that she
was not surprised the Western state moved to bar the couple's
burial. She described the policy as yet another act of
discrimination "in death as well as life."
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"I don't see where the ashes of a couple of old lesbians are going
to hurt anybody," she said.
Idaho's Republican Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter said in a statement
that voters in the state spoke in 2006 by approving a constitutional
amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho;
editing by Eric M.
Johnson and; Edwina Gibbs)
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