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Death Certificate Case Win Calls into Question State Gay Marriage Ban

Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer

In what could be the first crack in the state’s ban on gay marriage, a federal judge Friday ordered the state to issue a death certificate for George Martinez that lists Green Valley resident Fred McQuire as his legal spouse. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.

Together for 45 years, the couple married in July in California as Martinez fell ill. He died a month later. The state refused to recognize McQuire as the survivor, citing a 2008 voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. At today’s hearing attorney James Campbell of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian-based law firm defending the law, said there can be no exemptions.

“The state’s marriage policy is of the utmost importance. So the state can’t make exceptions to its marriage policy without undermining it. Many, many Arizonans went to the polls in 2008 and affirmed the state’s marriage policy. And it’s in the public interest to affirm that here today,” Campbell said.

But, Judge John Sedwick rejected the argument — and in a way that suggests he may be ready void the entire ban on same-sex weddings. Even Campbell said for Sedwick to order recognition of McQuire’s marriage the judge would be saying he thinks Arizona’s marriage laws are likely unconstitutional. McQuire said pursuing the case was important.

“I just need to let people know that I am married and George was my lifetime partner of over 40 years. We loved each other,” McQuire said.

Sedwick could consider the rest of the gay marriage ban within weeks.

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