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Emergency motion seeks recognition of deceased man’s surviving spouse

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
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PHOENIX — A gay rights legal advocacy group on Wednesday filed an emergency motion asking the U.S. District Court in Arizona to order the State of Arizona to provide a death certificate naming a deceased man’s spouse as his survivor.

Fred McQuire (left) and George Martinez.

Lambda Legal filed the motion on behalf of Fred McQuire and George Martinez, a Green Valley, Ariz., couple who are parties to a lawsuit filed earlier this year arguing that Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Martinez, who had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, died August 28.

“This is what we mean when we say every moment counts for same-sex couples whose relationships are disrespected by the State of Arizona. Fred and George were devoted to each other for 45 years and just days after George’s death Fred now has to fight to have his name listed on his husband’s death certificate — it’s heartbreaking and humiliating,” said Jennifer C. Pizer, Law and Policy Project Director for Lambda Legal.

“After George’s thirty years of service as Deputy Clerk of the Arizona Court of Appeals, it is a disgrace that the State’s lawyers refuse to give even one humane inch, just to refrain from debating the grief and vulnerability George’s death causes for Fred. It was an honor to know George and we will do everything we can to make sure his commitment to Fred is respected.”

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If the State does not provide a death certificate naming McQuire as Martinez’ surviving spouse, the inaccurate certificate will interfere with McQuire’s ability to take manage Martinez’ affairs and to apply for benefits generally available to a surviving spouse.

The couple, both veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, met in 1969, and were married in California in July after Martinez was diagnosed with cancer.

“George spent his life in service to his community and his country. The selflessness of coming forward and sharing his story during the last weeks of his life not only to look after Fred but also to help secure equality and dignity for others is a legacy of service, honor, and love deserving of our deepest appreciation and respect,” Pizer said.

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