ARIZONA: Federal Judge Orders State To Recognize Marriage On Death Certificate

Via press release from Lambda Legal:

A federal district court judge ordered the state of Arizona today to provide a death certificate that accurately reflects a recently deceased Green Valley man’s marriage to another man. Lambda Legal had requested a temporary restraining order last week on behalf of 69-year-old Fred McQuire, surviving husband of George Martinez, who died August 28 at the age of 62. Judge John Sedwick, visiting judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, said Arizona officials must provide McQuire a death certificate that lists Martinez as legally married to McQuire. An accurate death certificate is necessary for a surviving spouse to settle their loved one’s affairs, as well as to collect veterans, social security and other benefits generally available to surviving spouses. “I’m ecstatic and so grateful that my marriage to George is recognized. My birthday is next week and this is the best birthday present I could have ever hoped for. This is the highest honor that we could offer George and his memory—he would be so proud. Even though this ruling is for George and me, I hope this is going to help other families, too. No one else should have to deal with the pain and humiliation of not being able to take care of something as simple and sensitive as a death certificate for their spouse,” said Lambda Legal client Fred McQuire.

George had been diagnosed with cancer related to his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

UPDATE: Freedom To Marriage reacts.

“Couples in America should not have to play ‘now you’re married, now you’re not’ depending on which state they are in when a tragedy strikes, and states should not pick and choose which marriages they will respect and which they won’t as if we did not have one Constitution protecting all of us. It is good that the court has told Arizona it may not withhold an accurate death certificate from the surviving spouse in this compelling case, but Americans should not have to fight case by case, state by state, year by year for the freedom to marry and equal protection that the Constitution guarantees. It is time for the Supreme Court to take up one or more marriage cases and affirm the freedom to marry nationwide once and for all.”