Finally married: Pat Ewert and Vernita Gray (Pic: Facebook)
The ailing lesbian woman who successfully forced the American state of Illinois to allow her to marry her partner has finally tied the knot.
Last week, Vernita Gray (64) and Pat Ewert (65) got married in a private, festive ceremony attended by close friends and family at their home in Chicago.
A judge had granted the couple an emergency marriage license because Gray was unlikely to survive until same-sex marriage becomes legal in Illinois in June next year.
“So happy, so incredibly happy,’ said Ewert said after ceremony. “We feel so blessed to have this honour bestowed upon us. I love my partner, my wife now, more every single day.”
Gray was first diagnosed with cancer in 1996, which has now spread to her bones and brain.
Their marriage not only allowed the couple to celebrate their commitment to each other but also provides protection for Ewert.
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.
“Every day is crucial for same-sex couples like Vernita and Pat, who may not be able to and shouldn’t have to wait until next summer to get married,” said Camilla Taylor, Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal, which helped the couple in their legal battle.
“We’re thankful for the swift action by the court and the Cook County Clerk’s office to allow this to happen as soon as possible, and we’re beyond thrilled for Vernita and Pat, who are now able to say ‘We’re married.’”
Illinois legislators voted last month to legalise same-sex marriage but the law is only set to come into force next year.