Lambda Legal Files Emergency Papers in Arizona Seeking Accurate Death Certificate for Husband of George Martinez

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September 3, 2014
Jennifer C. Pizer
“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,”

(Los Angeles September 3, 2014) — Today Lambda Legal filed emergency papers asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona to order the State of Arizona to provide an accurate death certificate to Fred McQuire for his husband, George Martinez, who passed away early Thursday morning.

“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.”

If the State does not provide an accurate death certificate to Fred as George’s surviving husband, the inaccurate certificate will interfere with Fred’s ability to take care of George’s affairs and to apply for survivor’s benefits generally available to a surviving spouse.

Fred, 69 and his late husband, George 62, of Green Valley, both veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, met in 1969. George served in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, and Fred served in both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army and was stationed in Guam. After his military service, George joined the staff of Arizona’s Court of Appeals in Tucson, where he became the court’s first Deputy Clerk.  He served in that role with dedication, professionalism and warmth for thirty years.

In recent years, both George and Fred battled life-threatening illnesses which required multiple hospitalizations. Fred suffers from pulmonary disease and Parkinson’s, and George was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago that resulted from his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. While the prostate cancer was in remission, this past June George was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.  He passed away on August 28, 2014.

“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 added.

Read the Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order here: http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/20140903-mcguiremotionfortro

Read Fred’s Declaration here: http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/20140902-declarationofmarriage

The motion is filed in Lambda Legal’s ongoing Arizona marriage case  Majors v. Jeanes and more information is available here: http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/majors-v-jeanes.

Lambda Legal attorneys Jennifer C. Pizer and Carmina Ocampo are handling the case, joined by pro-bono co-counsel Paul Eckstein, Daniel C. Barr, Kirsten Eidenbach, Barry Stratford and Alexis Danneman of Perkins Coie LLP.

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Contact Info

Contact: Lisa Hardaway 973-902-9298; Email: lhardaway@lambdalegal.org

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