affirming the freedom to marry
Madelynn Lee Taylor
On July 7, 2014, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Boise attorneys Deborah A. Ferguson and Craig Durham filed a lawsuit on behalf of Madelynn Lee Taylor, a 74-year-old military veteran challenging Idaho state laws prohibiting her from being buried in the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery with her late wife, Jean Mixner.
Taylor served in the Navy from 1958 to 1964. In 2013, she tried to make advance arrangements to have her ashes interred along with those of her wife in a granite columbarium at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, as other veterans and their spouses are permitted to do. Though Mixner and Taylor were married in California in 2008, cemetery employees refused her request because Idaho law does not recognize their marriage.
The lawsuit argues that Idaho’s laws prohibiting the state from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples who married in other states violate the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.
The lawsuit follows a landmark marriage equality victory in Idaho. On May 13, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale ordered the State of Idaho to allow same-sex couples to marry and to recognize the marriages of couples who married in other states after four same-sex couples challenged state laws. The couples in that case are also represented by NCLR and attorneys Ferguson and Durham.
Idaho Governor Butch Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden appealed Judge Dale’s decision to the Ninth Circuit. The appeal was argued on September 8, 2014 in San Francisco, California. On October 7, 2014, the Ninth Circuit ruled 3-0 that Idaho’s ban on the freedom to marry for same-sex couples violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, paving the way for marriages by same-sex couples to begin on October 15, 2014. As a result of the decision by the Ninth Circuit, Idaho state officials agreed to Taylor’s request.
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in NCLR’s Tennessee marriage case and cases from three other states affirming the freedom to marry in every state and U.S. territory.