A conservative leader has criticized a federal judge's decision ordering Arizona to recognize the out-of-state marriage of a gay couple.

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick ordered the state to recognize the marriage of military veterans Fred McQuire and George Martinez for the purpose of death benefits.

The couple is among those challenging Arizona's 2008 voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.

After 45 years together, McQuire and Martinez married in California last year. Martinez passed away last week in Tucson, shortly after he received a diagnosis of stage IV pancreatic cancer.

Sedwick ordered the state to list McQuire as Martinez's surviving spouse on his death certificate.

Attorney Jennifer Pizer of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said without the recognition McQuire was not eligible to receive Martinez's Social Security and other benefits and risked losing his home as a result.

Cathi Herrod, president of the Christian conservative Center for Arizona Policy, told the AP that the ruling makes Arizona the latest “victim” of an “activist judiciary.”

“Arizona is the latest victim of a politicized and activist judiciary,” Herrod said. “Judge Sedwick did not have to issue the ruling he did today. In our opinion, the ruling was based on political considerations rather than constitutional law principles.”

“The key for everyone to know is that no court decision will be the final arbiter of the meaning of marriage for our culture. That regardless of what the courts rule that the challenge to restore the meaning of marriage between one man and one woman to our culture will go on. That this is only the beginning of an extended public policy debate on the issue of marriage,” she added.