Judge grants couple right to marry in Illinois before law goes into effect due to terminal illness


A lesbian couple in Illinois was granted their marriage license on November 25, seven months before the state’s law is set to go into effect.

After Lamda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit seeking immediate action, Vernita Gray and her partner Patricia Ewert will be able to wed nearly a year earlier than their fellow Illinoisans. 

The couple will be issued the early license because of Gray’s battle with terminal cancer, their lawyers reportedly said. County Clerk David Orr, who told press that he fully welcomed the ruling, agreed to comply with the order which was issued by United States District Judge Thomas Durkin on Monday, November 25. Orr had his staff hand-deliver the marriage license to the pair’s home on Monday night.

Although the two have yet to confirm or announce any plans for a ceremony, they’re expected to wed within the week.

“This all happened so quickly,” Ewert told the media. “Vernita and I haven’t had a chance to talk.”

Illinois’ marriage equality law won’t go until effect for the rest of the state until June 1, but due to Gray’s illness, an exception was said to be valid by Judge Durkin. Following brain surgery in June 2013, Gray was recently told that she might only have days or weeks to live.

The ruling will allow the couple to access tangible benefits that they’ve been denied since their engagement in 2009.


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