Veterans like Lt. Col. Linda Campbell devote their lives to serving their country and keeping our communities safe. But when her partner Nancy passed away just before Christmas last year, Linda wasn’t able to bury Nancy in the Willamette National Cemetery – as other veterans are able to do for their spouses – because the federal government did not recognize their relationship. In February, Linda told her heart-wrenching story to the Oregonian.
By enduring a lengthy and uncertain process, Linda eventually succeeded in getting a waiver that cleared the way for Nancy to be buried at Willamette National Cemetery (listen to the update on OPB). But it was the first time the Department of Veterans Affairs had allowed a same-sex partner to be buried in a national cemetery—and it took the leadership of U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian to make it happen. It is unacceptable to subject grieving veterans like Linda to a lengthy waiver process to be buried next to the person they love.
Same-sex couples deserve to have their loving and committed relationships treated equally under the law. But the National Cemetery Administration still says same-sex partners – even married couples, like Linda and Nancy – are ineligible for burial in a national cemetery. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki has the authority to approve waivers to that rule as he sees fit.
In the weeks since Linda secured a waiver, Senator Merkley and 15 other U.S. Senators wrote to the Department of Veterans Affairs asking that veterans and their same-sex spouses be granted the right to be buried next to each other in national cemeteries via an expedited process.
Help ensure no other veterans have to experience Linda’s struggle.