Madelynn Taylor Sues Idaho For Right to Be Buried With Late Wife in Vet Cemetery



Madelynn Taylor (center) is flanked by attorneys Craig Durham and Deborah Ferguson.

  • George Prentice
  • Madelynn Taylor (center) is flanked by attorneys Craig Durham and Deborah Ferguson.

Boise Weekly readers first met U.S. Navy veteran Madelynn Taylor in April. Our story caught regional, national and even international attention—telling the story of how Taylor's request to be interred at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery had been rejected.

After being turned down verbally and in writing, the 74-year-old Taylor, whose wife Jean died two years ago (the two were legally married in California in 2008), is set to take her fight to court.

"We're suing David Brasuell (Administrator of the Idaho Division of Veterans Services) today, in U.S. District Court," Boise-based attorney Craig Durham told Boise Weekly this morning. "Madelynn's constitutional rights have been violated."

"I do want to say that we're sympathetic to her situation," Brasuell told BW in April.

But Idaho won't recognize Taylor's marriage and therefore won't pre-accept her burial application, asking that she and her late spouse's ashes be interred together at the state cemetery.

"It's inexcusable that the State of Idaho refuses to honor the wishes of a veteran of our armed forces to be buried together with her spouse," said Boise-based attorney Deborah Ferguson. "The state's disrespect for a veteran's honorable service to our country is one of the clearest examples of the harm and indignity that Idaho's discriminatory marriage laws inflict on same-sex couples through the state. The state's treatment of Ms. Taylor and her late wife violates the most basic principles of equality and respect for human dignity enshrined in our Constitution."

Durham, Ferguson and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have teamed together to defend Taylor.

The Idaho Department of Veterans Affairs, represented by the State Attorney General's office, will have approximately 60 days to respond to the suit.

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