vernita-gray-pat-ewert-kat-fitzgeraldMarriage equality in Illinois was signed into law on Nov. 20, 2013, but the law won’t go into effect until June 1, 2014. But that’s not soon enough for Vernita Gray, 64, a Chicago LGBT rights activist who suffers from life-threatening brain and bone cancer. She wants to marry her girlfriend of five years, Patricia Ewert. 

The couple, left, had a civil union celebration on Aug. 13, 2011. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and Lambda Legal brought the case to court Nov. 22.

“Vernita is terminally ill and she wishes to marry the woman she loves before she dies—and now she won’t have to wait another day,” said Camilla Taylor, Marriage Project director for Lambda Legal. “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.”

U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin ordered Cook County Clerk David Orr, a longtime marriage equality supporter, to issue a marriage license to Gray and Ewert. 

Their marriage will relieve Ewert from having to deal with estate tax should Gray die. (The basis of the lawsuit of Edy Windsor vs. United States of America, which resulted in the overturning of a key section of DOMA.) This marriage certificate for Gray and Ewert also allows Gray to die with the dignity of full legal recognition of her relationship. 

H/T: Daily Kos

Photo: Kat Fitzgerald