Two Arizona men, one of whom has terminal cancer, have asked the state for immediate recognition of their marriage.
Lambda Legal filed the motion Friday in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on behalf of George Martinez, 62, and Fred McQuire, 69, of Green Valley, who have been together 45 years and were married last month in California. In June, Martinez was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer, which has metastasized to his liver, and told that he has only months to live. McQuire has pulmonary disease and Parkinson’s.
“These two lovely men, both of them in poor health which makes travel difficult, were forced to make an arduous journey to California to get married because of Arizona’s discriminatory marriage ban,” said Lambda Legal senior counsel Jennifer C. Pizer in a press release. “But they endured because they know their time together is short, only to return home where their marriage is not recognized.”
Added Martinez: “We knew we wanted to get married, and had hoped to be able to do it here, in Arizona, where we live. But now we can’t wait. Even though we are very sick and disabled, we decided we had no choice but to make the difficult and exhausting trip to California.”
Both men are military veterans, but the lack of marriage recognition prevents Martinez from receiving the increased veterans’ disability compensation to which disabled veterans with spouses are usually entitled, according to Lambda Legal. Also, upon Martinez’s death, Arizona will refuse to issue a death certificate to McQuire as his surviving spouse, which will interfere with McQuire’s ability to take care of Martinez’s affairs after his death and to access survivors’ benefits generally available to a surviving spouse, the legal group notes.
Martinez and McQuire are among the plaintiffs in Lambda Legal’s suit challenging Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage, which was filed in March. Last week, in addition to filing the motion seeking recognition of the two men’s marriage, the legal group filed one seeking summary judgment — a ruling without a trial — in the overall marriage case, asking the court to determine that the ban is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. The suit is one of two seeking marriage equality in the state, and more than 75 cases in 32 states and territories seeking the freedom to marry nationwide.