BOISE – Seventy-four-year-old Navy veteran Madelynn Lee Taylor has won her legal fight to be buried with her wife at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery when she dies.
In a ruling issued late Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Ron Bush rejected the state’s arguments and concluded that Taylor “is entitled to have the assurance that there is a court order in place requiring that what she has a right to have happen if she were to pass away today, will happen when she does pass away.”
He noted the U.S. Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
The cemetery in Boise initially refused to allow the ashes of Taylor’s wife, Jean Mixner, to be interred there as the spouse of a military member, citing Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage. Taylor filed suit in federal court. After courts overturned Idaho’s ban in October, the cemetery agreed to allow Mixner’s remains to be interred. The couple had been legally married in California in 2008.
Taylor then asked the state to join her in requesting a final judgment in her case, but the state refused, instead seeking to dismiss the case as moot.
Taylor successfully argued there was no guarantee the state’s policies might not change again, leading her to fear that the state could deny her the right for her remains to be commingled with her spouse’s. She noted the state made multiple attempts to appeal the legal ruling on same-sex marriage that allowed Mixner’s remains to be interred.
Deborah Ferguson, Taylor’s attorney, said, “We wanted to make sure we had this secured for her during her lifetime.”
Taylor is suffering from serious health problems; Ferguson said she spoke with her late Thursday.
“She’s thrilled,” Ferguson said. “She had recent surgery she’s recovering from and is very excited to hear about the decision.”
The Idaho attorney general’s office had no comment.