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Shock: Navy Honored Dead Aviator’s Out-Of-State Marriage Certificate

And this was before Obama signed that DADT repeal bill! Chicago’s Mark Ketterson (pictured, right), who lost his husband John Fliszar, a Vietnam veteran, to a heart attack in July, wasn’t sure the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis would grant his request to keep Fliszar’s ashes at the academy’s columbarium, as Fliszar wanted. “They were always polite, but there was this moment of hesitation,” Ketterson tells the Chicago Sun-Times, adding that he told the academy he was the husband of the late aviator. Yes, but the Navy would need something in writing from a blood relative in order to let Ketterson call the shots, an official told him. And then Ketterson pulled his trump card: a marriage certificate from Iowa, where same-sex marriage is legal, and where the pair wed two years ago. With the marriage certificate and his name on Fliszar’s death certificate, “I was respected,” Ketterson says. “From that moment on, I was next of kin. They were amazing.” Not only did the USNA accept Fliszar’s ashes, but its alumni association sent Ketterson a note of condolence, and its magazine Shipmate notes Fliszar is “survived by his husband, Mark Thomas Ketterson.” As for Fliszar’s flag, Ketterson was to receive it as the designated next of kin, but he offered it to Fliszar’s grieving mother; she turned it over to Ketterson.

By:           Ryan Tedder
On:           Jan 29, 2011
Tagged: , , , , , , ,

  • 9 Comments
    • Nathan
      Nathan

      Good to see this man got the respect he deserved from the Navy in his time of grief.

      Jan 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Frank
      Frank

      And that is why marriage means something.

      Jan 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gregger
      gregger

      Glad to see the Navy acted in a positive manner.

      Jan 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark Ketterson
      Mark Ketterson

      Hello, I just stumbled across this, and thanks for posting. I do want to say something to make sure the record is set straight, as it were – there really was no question of pulling a “Trump card” or forcing anything here, and of course we are not talking about the Navy at large, but the USNA at Annapolis. The staff there could not have been kinder or more respectful. I really think the initial hesitation was simply because they had not encountered this before; once done, they were amazing. The story here is not about having to push for respect – it is that even though people might have held their own private feelings about things, that respect was freely given in light of the need to respect a veteran and an alumnus. I felt very proud to be an American dealing with them. Thanks, all of you, and be well.

      Jan 29, 2011 at 5:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • grayyoung
      grayyoung

      i graduated from USNA last year. It really is an amazing institution far ahead of the rest of the military in terms of social issues. The academy is a great place and has great people there.

      Jan 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Steve
      Steve

      Trying this at the Air Force Academy would certainly have yielded far less pleasant results.

      Jan 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Right Wingers Are Socioptahs (John From England)
      Right Wingers Are Socioptahs (John From England)

      @Mark Ketterson:

      Great stuff.

      Jan 29, 2011 at 9:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DR
      DR

      @Frank:

      Exactly.

      Jan 30, 2011 at 8:50 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • GetBalance
      GetBalance

      Awesome, it gives me more pause to reflect on the rights granted to “we the people” in our US Constitution.

      Jan 30, 2011 at 12:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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