Illinois' First Gay Marriage Happens Ahead Of Schedule Per Judge's Orders

It’s a bittersweet victory for Vertnita Gray and Patricia Ewert. Illinois isn’t supposed to start marrying same-sex couples until June of next year, but a federal judge made an exception for Gray, who’s in her mid-60s and terminally ill with brain cancer. Gray and Ewert, her partner, worried that she might pass away before the state’s new marriage equality law went into effect, and so last Friday, they filed a lawsuit in federal court. Two days later, a Cook County judge issued them an expedited marriage license, and two days later, Gray and Ewert became the first gay couple to get married in the state of Illinois.

Last week, Illinois became the 16th state to legalize gay marriage, just days after Hawaii did the same. The new law doesn’t go into effect until June 1st, 2014; however, Gray and Ewert’s story could provide momentum for legislation to move up the date. That legislation is currently pending in the statehouse, and it could pass as soon as January, when the Illinois legislature reconvenes. Governor Pat Quinn has said that if it lands on his desk, he’ll sign it.

“I’d say the sooner, the better,” Quinn said earlier this week.

The couple was represented by Lambda Legal, a progressive law firm that focuses on LGBT and gender equality.

Image: Associated Press