Gay veteran: 'Ashes of a couple old lesbians isn't going to hurt anyone'

Gay veteran: 'Ashes of a couple old lesbians isn't going to hurt anyone' »Play Video
Madelynn Taylor looks at photos of her wife, Jean.

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Madelynn Taylor wants to spend eternity next to the love of her life.

The 74-year-old U.S. Navy veteran from Boise instantly fell in love with her partner back in 1995. They were inseparable and married soon after.

But when Taylor's spouse passed away in the spring of 2012, she knew it was time to start planning for her own death. Besides, she says, her own health is slowing her down.

"I'm a stroke waiting to happen," Taylor told KBOI 2News Wednesday.

She went to the Idaho Veterans Cemetery and asked officials to reserve a spot for interment, along with her partner's ashes. The cemetery allows spouses of veterans to be buried or interred with them.

They said no.

"I'm not surprised." Taylor said. "I've been discriminated against for 70 years, and they might as well discriminate against me in death as well as life."

A spokesperson with the Division of Veterans Services told KBOI 2News that they "have to abide by the Idaho state constitution," which only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman.

"I don't see where the ashes of a couple old lesbians is going to hurt anyone," Taylor said.

On Thursday, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter released a statement.

“The veteran’s cemetery rules require a valid marriage certificate in order for a spouse to be buried with a veteran. Idaho’s Constitution does not recognize same-sex marriage. The voters spoke in 2006 by passing an amendment to our Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. I am defending their decision and the Idaho Constitution in federal court, so I’m not going to comment any further.” 

Taylor served in the Navy for six years, in the late 50's and early 60's just as America was entering the Vietnam War.

She was later discharged after she said another recruit told superiors that she and several other woman in her unit were gay. Taylor later petitioned, and had her discharge revised to honorable.

Taylor later moved to Boise where the rest of her family now lives. She said she wasn't always out of the closet, but was inspired to do so when Reverend Jerry Falwell came to Boise in the 80's.

At the time Falwell was very outspoken against gays, and she wanted to let her voice be heard while he was in town.

During a trip in 1995 she was set up on a blind date in Kansas City where she met Jean Mixner who moved to Boise a few months later to be with Taylor.

They were married in a special ceremony in Oregon in 1995, and were legally married in California in 2008.

Jean was a smoker and had emphysema. She died in 2012.

After being denied internment with her spouse she decided to join the Add the Four Words protest during the last legislative session. She hopes the law will be changed here locally or that the Supreme Court will rule the ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

Even though she could be buried in a national veterans cemetery Taylor wants to be buried in Boise because this is where her family now lives. Even if she dies before the law is changed Taylor plans to have someone hold onto her and Jean's ashes until she's allowed in.