Federal Court orders Illinois To Issue Early Marriage License for Lesbian Couple

Jim Burroway

November 26th, 2013

Vernita Gray, 64, left, and Pat Ewert, 65, right at their 2011 civil union ceremony.

A Federal District Court took the unusual step in ordering the state of Illinois to issue a marriage license to a lesbian couple, one of whom is terminally ill, so the couple can marry without waiting until marriage equality becomes legal there in June of next year. U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin signed a temporary restraining order yesterday ordering Cook County Clerk David Orr to gant a marriage license to Vernita Gray, 64, and Patricia Ewert, 65:

Even though the Cook County couple entered into a civil union in 2011, Gray and Ewert wish to marry in Illinois before Gray passes away. Erik Roldon, a spokesperson for Lambda Legal, said now that the couple has the temporary restraining order, they could marry as soon as Wednesday.

In a statement, Gray expressed tremendous joy that she’d finally be able to marry her long-time partner in their home state.

“I have two cancers, bone and brain and I just had chemo today — I am so happy to get this news,” Gray said. “I’m excited to be able to marry and take care of Pat, my partner and my family, should I pass.”

Doctors say Gray may have only weeks to live. This is believed to be the first time that a federal judge has ordered a state to provide a marriage license to a same-sex couple. Last July, a federal judge in Cincinnati ordered the state of Ohio to recognize the marriage of a gay couple who married in Maryland, one of whom was terminally ill with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease). He passed away
in October.

Paul Douglas

November 26th, 2013

So nice to see the walls of Jericho come a tumblin’ down. Great decision!


November 27th, 2013

Super news, the Court supporting this wonderful couple, long overdue and may they enjoy every moment left to them.

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