In a story that truly hurt us to the core, a widowed 74-year-old US Navy Veteran, Madeylynn Taylor, was denied a request to buried near her legally married wife at the Idaho Veterans Cemetery simply because she was gay. Taylor, who served in the Navy for six years, married her longtime partner in California in 2008, but retired back to her home state of Idaho. The cemetery says that they are just following state protocol—Idaho doesn’t allow same-sex marriage—but that reasoning was enough to sicken another Idaho vet, Colonel Barry Johnson, who says he’s willing to give Taylor his cemetery plot. He wrote in an editorial for the Idaho Statesman:
As a lifelong Idahoan and a 27-year Army veteran of two wars, I’ve worked beside heterosexuals, gays, lesbians and bisexuals. I‘ve really never wanted to hear about anybody’s sex life or sexual preferences, one way or another. Besides, everybody more or less knew who is who regardless, and I don’t recall anybody in the military ever saying a thing about it. Never.
Frankly, the only thing traumatic about the policy change for our armed forces of allowing gays to openly serve our country was all the media making a big deal about it. It didn’t change a thing for any of us doing the job. Serving in uniform has always been about earning trust and has never been about sexuality….
Then we have Madelynn Taylor, who seems like one heck of a lady. She cared for another person with all her heart and had to watch that person die. She is a veteran. She loves her country. She wants her partner by her side and she wants to eternally rest among veterans in the state she made home.
Madelynn, you deserve that.
I’ll tell you what. I will donate the plot I earned in the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery to you and Jean. I am happy to give my fellow veteran that small peace of mind. And I do it to honor all the great Americans I’ve served with along the way – gay, straight, whatever. (I don’t know whether it is possible to donate my plot, but I am quite sincere about my willingness to do so.)