Seventy-four-year-old Navy veteran Madelynn Lee Taylor won her legal fight in federal court late Thursday, winning a final judgment and order requiring the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery to allow her remains to be co-mingled with those of her wife, Jean Mixner, when she dies. The cemetery initially refused to allow Mixner’s ashes to be buried there as the spouse of a military member, citing Idaho’s then-ban on same-sex marriage. Taylor filed suit in federal court. After courts overturned Idaho’s ban last October, the cemetery agreed to allow Mixner’s remains to be interred.
Taylor then asked the state to join her in requesting a final judgment in her case, but the state refused, instead filing a motion to dismiss the case as moot. Taylor argued there was no guarantee that the state’s policies might not change again, resulting in her remains not being allowed to be co-mingled with her spouse’s when she dies. She noted that the state made multiple attempts to appeal the legal ruling on same-sex marriage that allowed Mixner’s remains to be interred. In a ruling late Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Ron Bush ruled 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 wrote, “That is the relief she seeks, and equally importantly, her right.”
He noted that now, the U.S. Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, and has rejected Idaho’s final appeal on the issue.
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,” she said. “She had recent surgery she’s recovering from, and is very excited to hear about the decision.” You can read the full ruling here.