Sixty-five-year-old Vernita Gray has been fighting the good fight with terminal breast cancer, but she knows her time is limited. So, she's pursuing her dying wish: To marry partner Patricia Ewert, to whom she's been engaged for years. Since the couple lives in Illinois, one of the most recent states to pass marriage equality, Vernita and Patricia should be able to say "I do" without a hitch, right? Not technically ... as the same-sex marriage bill that Governor Pat Quinn signed into law last week doesn't allow for weddings to begin until June.
That's why U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin chose to make an exception for Vernita and Patricia.
Judge Durkin's federal court ordered that the Cook County clerk immediately issue Vernita and Patricia a marriage license, officials told The Chicago Tribune. And County Clerk David Orr said he would comply with the order, so that means Vernita and Patricia are going to be able to get hitched ASAP!
Of the decision, Patricia said:
This has been an amazingly wonderful surprise and we are thrilled beyond belief. The judge was an amazing human being who understands our struggle. I'm surprised, happy, delighted.
So amazing, and yet ... I'm not quite sure how any other decision could've been an option. As the Lambda Legal civil rights group that represented the women in court put it:
There is no sense to that, and there are many Illinois families that are suffering significant harm because they are not married. While this family's situation is particularly dire, there are others, too, who need to be able to marry.
How true ... Patricia and Vernita are not alone. As wonderful as it is that they can marry now, it's beyond heartbreaking that they needed to go to federal court to make it happen and that their situation is being considered a special exception, due to Vernita's terminal illness. Their story is only further proof that we need more widespread marriage equality, so couples like Patricia and Vernita are able to marry without having to "ask permission" to tie the knot before some arbitrary date and well before it is a dying wish.
What's your reaction to Vernita and Patricia's victory?
Image via antmoose/Flickr