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Judge Rules Married Gay Man Gets Death Benefits, Despite Arizona Ban

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Fred McQuire, left, and George Martinez pose for photos at their wedding in California.
Fred McQuire, left, and George Martinez pose for photos at their wedding in California. Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund via AP

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A judge has handed a victory to a gay man who lost his spouse to cancer last month and was denied death benefits because Arizona does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Fred McQuire and George Martinez were partners of 45 years who got married in California this summer, fulfilling one of their final wishes as they both dealt with serious health issues. Martinez died in late August, but McQuire was unable to receive Social Security and veteran benefits because Arizona bans gay marriage.

McQuire went to court Friday as his lawyers asked U.S. District Judge John Sedwick to let McQuire be listed as Martinez's spouse on the death certificate. The judge quickly issued a ruling in favor of McQuire. The ruling Friday was narrowly focused on the question of whether McQuire can obtain death benefits. But the case has illustrated the patchwork of laws on gay marriage across the country as judges have been striking down bans on gay marriage while states like Arizona have remained steadfast in opposing same-sex weddings.

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