Gay couple allowed to marry early in Illinois

Vernita Gray (left) and Pat Ewart kiss after their marriage ceremony (Reuters/John Gress)

Vernita Gray (left) and Pat Ewart kiss after their marriage ceremony (Reuters/John Gress)

In Illinois, the 16th state to legalize and recognize gay marriages, a Chicago woman dying of cancer wed her female partner six months before the law actually takes effect.

The cancer patient, Vernita Gray, 64, and Patricia Ewert, 65, married in a private ceremony in their Chicago home just two days after a federal court granted an emergency marriage license.

Illinois’ gay marriage law, signed by Gov. Pat Quinn last week, does not take effect until June 1, 2014. The couple had sued, arguing the delay discriminated against them by preventing the couple from marrying before Gray’s death.

“I’m so excited for us and for the community, for today is a beginning. One so richly deserved,” said Gray in a statement.

Legalization of gay marriage in Illinois became the latest in a series of gay rights victories, as Hawaii earlier in the month approved gay marriages and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in October dropped his appeal of a court ruling that legalized same-sex nuptials.

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