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Ariz. Man Can Get Husband's Death Benefits, Federal Court Rules

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on September 12, 2014 3:23 PM

An Arizona man may receive his dead husband's benefits after a federal court ruled that his spouse's death certificate could be changed to reflect their same-sex married status.

Fred McQuire, 69, lost his partner George Martinez after 45 years, after the two got married in California this summer, reports The Arizona Republic. Arizona's ban on same-sex marriage prevented McQuire from getting his deceased husband's Social Security and veteran's benefits, but on Friday a federal judge ruled in McQuire's favor.

Gay Man Listed as 'Spouse' on Death Certificate

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick ordered that McQuire be listed as Martinez's spouse on his Arizona death certificate, which should help McQuire access his dead spouse's benefits.

A similar case was decided in Ohio in July 2013, when a federal judge allowed the surviving partner to be listed as "spouse" on the death certificate -- despite the fact that their Maryland marriage was not recognized. The Ohio case, along with other same-sex marriage cases, are pending appeal.

For now, Judge Sedwick's ruling appears to only affect Fred McQuire, not the entire state of Arizona. But it serves to further complicate the patchwork of laws and legal decisions related to gay marriage.

Arizona Gay Man Listed as 'Spouse' on Partner's Death Certificate: Federal Court

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