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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 29 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 48
Compassion from the bench - Federal judge allows early marriage for woman with terminal cancer
Section One
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Compassion from the bench - Federal judge allows early marriage for woman with terminal cancer

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Vernita Gray will get to marry her partner, Patricia Ewert, seven months early.

The couple lives in Illinois, where the newly signed marriage equality law does not go into effect until June 1 next year. That will likely be far too late for Gray, who is terminally ill with cancer.

Fortunately for her, U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin ordered Cook County to expedite the process, so the couple can marry before Gray dies. The two women say they plan to wed within a week.

Cook County Clerk David Orr said he would comply with Durkin's order, adding that expedited licenses are already available to opposite-sex couples in similar circumstances.

Gray was first diagnosed with cancer in 1996, but she is now in imminent danger, according to a statement issued by Lambda Legal, which assisted in the couple's court case.

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

The couple's suit, filed by Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois, sought immediate relief.

'These two women, who have loved and cared for each other in good times and bad, through sickness and through health, will get to know what it means to be married,' said Lambda Legal's Camilla Taylor.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the new marriage law on November 20.

The measure's legislative sponsors agreed to delay the date it goes into effect to June 2014 in order to reduce the number of votes needed for passage from 72 to 60. The bill passed with only one vote to spare, 61-54, in the House. The Illinois Senate passed the bill on Valentine's Day.

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