“Almost died. He recovered from the drugs that were being developed and then he decided he didn’t want to advertise anymore and his friends suggested he could become a teacher,” Anthony said.
10 years later, Mark was diagnosed with cancer.
“In 2013, he started to feel bad and went to the doctor, and they told him that his cancer had spread. It was now in the lungs and his liver.”
But that same year, good news came: same-sex marriage became legal in New Mexico. The two went to the courthouse and got married that day.
“They made an announcement that there was a mass ceremony at Civic Plaza, so we said let’s go for it.”
Mark died a few months later, the two had been together for 15 years. But legally only a few months on paper, which meant Anthony couldn’t access his survivor’s Social Security benefits.
“If you believe strongly in something, you have to fight for it. And I’m convinced that Mark and I contributed to society, you know, by working by paying taxes, paying social security, and I thought it was unfair, you know, because a law that prevented us from marry, was used against us.”
For years, the case went through the courts.
“It’s just been a waiting game. Everything just takes forever, it seems.”
Social Security was ordered to make payments in January. Anthony finally got them in May.
“I knew I couldn’t spend it because I might have to pay back. So we had to wait and see until the final result was announced on Monday and then the federal government and social security decided to withdraw their appeal.”
The end of a long and painful journey.
“I’ve heard people say I should move on with my life. But as long as this lawsuit hung over my head, I really couldn’t do it, you know, every day it was a reminder of what I lost.”
More same-sex couples are now eligible for survivor benefits.
“Sometimes I was ready to give up. You know, people encouraged me and told me to keep going because it affected not only me, but a lot of other people in the United States.”
Looking back, when Anthony thinks about what Mark might have done.
“He would have done the same, he would have fought because he thought it was the right thing to do.”