A US federal court has ordered that a marriage license be issued immediately to a dying lesbian woman and her partner.
Vernita Gray and Patricia Ewert live in the state of Illinois which recently legalised same sex marriage, but the law will only come into effect in June next year.
Gray, however, has cancer that has spread to her bones and brain and is not expected to live until the marriage law goes into effect.
“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, which together with the ACLU of Illinois filed the emergency case on Friday.
“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 Taylor.
Speaking after hearing the news of her court victory, Gray commented: “I have two cancers, bone and brain and I just had chemo today – 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.”
Gray and Ewert have been in a committed, loving relationship for five years. After a first date that included a play at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the couple has been inseparable.
Gray was first diagnosed with cancer in 1996. Despite years of treatment and therapy, the cancer now imminently threatens her life. As the couple struggles through this difficult time together, marriage would not only allow the couple to celebrate their commitment to each other but also provide protection for Ewert.
“The court recognised that Vernita and Pat should not be denied the freedom to marry simply because of the arbitrary nature of the start date of the new law,” added John Knight, LGBT Project Director at the ACLU of Illinois.
“Their love deserves the dignity of marriage now and there is simply no justification for forcing them to wait.”