04/25/2014 08:47 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Lesbian Veteran Denied Burial Next To Wife

A 74-year-old Navy veteran won’t be buried next to the love of her life, according to the state of Idaho.

Madelynn Taylor and her wife, Jean Mixner, were inseparable for 17 years, until Mixner passed away two years ago. After Mixner's death, Taylor went to the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, where her brother and sister are also buried, and requested to be buried next to her wife's ashes when the times comes, according to Idaho news outlet KTVB.

Though the cemetery normally permits veterans and their spouses to be buried next to one another, the Idaho Division of Veterans Services denied Taylor's application because the state refuses to recognize her marriage.

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

Taylor grew up in a military family. She joined the Navy in 1958 and served for six years. She and Mixner met on a blind date in 1995, and the two quickly fell madly in love, then formally married in California in 2008.

Despite their California marriage license, Idaho does not recognize their union under the state's Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Neither does the state recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages.

Here's what the Idaho Constitution has to say about marriage equality: "A marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state."

"We have to follow the state law, and the state law, you know well," Idaho Division of Veterans Services Deputy Administrator Tamara Mackenthun told KTVB of Taylor's predicament.

But Taylor won't lose sight of her goal to be buried in the veterans' cemetery with her partner. She recently joined up with gay rights advocacy group Add The Words to campaign against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender discrimination and to change the state's laws.

"I just feel that it's the right place for me. You know, I'm a veteran. So they should let me ... in fact they would let me alone, be in that crypt," Taylor told KTVB. "But I don't want to alone. I want Jean with me."



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