The Sunday Chicago Sun-Times reported this week that the U.S. Naval Acadamy respected the wishes of a Marine pilot who died in July 2010 and allowed his ashes to be placed at the Columbarium, a marble waterside crypt next to the school’s cemetery. It's a honor for veterans who graduated from the acadamy. No big deal, right? Well, the former pilot happened to be gay.
The Sun-Times reported that Mark Ketterson of Chicago, the man's widower (they had been legally married in Iowa when it became legal in that state) was treated with exactly the same respect that ANY spouse would be.
You can read the full story here. But the gist of it is, basically, once Mark had sent the marriage certificate that he and his husband John Fliszar had gotten in Iowa, the USNA did exactly what they should have done. They treated Mark with the respect due to the spouse of a veteran and offered him the honor of receiving the flag that was used at the memorial service. He was, as far as the USNA was concerned, the proper next of kin.
“His next of kin was treated with the same dignity and respect afforded to the next of kin of all USNA grads who desire interment at the Columbarium,” Jennifer Erickson, a spokesperson for the academy, told the Sun-Times. “We didn’t do anything differently.”
Perhaps not a major thing in the battle for marriage rights. But every once in a while, you get reminded of how decent and respectful people can be. This is how it should be done.