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After Husband’s Death, a Challenge to Arizona’s Gay Marriage Ban

Photo courtesy Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund

A man legally married in California whose husband died last week in Tucson wants a judge to issue an emergency order requiring this state to list him as the spouse on the death certificate. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Fred McQuire and George Martinez were wed last year in San Diego. Martinez died last week. But, the Arizona Department of Health Services will not list McQuire on the death certificate. Jennifer Pizer of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said this is an important issue.

“It’s a very powerful statement to Fred about whether he is somebody or isn’t somebody with respect to his deceased husband. I mean, that’s the official statement of the government,” Pizer said.

But, Pizer said there are more practical considerations: Without being listed on the death certificate, McQuire cannot get the Social Security and VA benefits to which a survivor is legally entitled — benefits he would get had Martinez died in California. And, she said without those McQuire will lose his home, something the law considers unique.

“It is not acceptable in terms of injunctive relief to say OK, we’re going to have litigation about this. You’ll get your answer in a year or two or three or four at the end of which you’ll receive some money and then you’ll be made whole. Well, if you lost your home in the process, receiving money down the road doesn’t give you your home back because once it’s gone it’s just gone,” Pizer said.

At this point there is no date for a hearing.

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