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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.