Lambda Legal and ACLU of Illinois Plaintiffs, Vernita and Pat, Wed in Private Home Ceremony

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November 27, 2013
Lambda Legal clients Vernita Gray and Pat Ewert

Update: Lambda Legal and ACLU of Illinois Expedite Marriage for Same-sex Couples Facing Urgent Medical Circumstances.

Today, in a private ceremony attended by close friends and family, Vernita Gray and Pat Ewert were wed at their home in Chicago. The couple, who become the first gay or lesbian couple to wed legally in Illinois, were granted an emergency marriage license by a federal court on Monday.

Read our FAQ: Illinois Marriage Law.

Camilla Taylor, Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal, said:

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. 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.’

Ms. 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 allows the couple to celebrate their commitment to each other but also provide protection for Ms. Ewert.

John Knight, LGBT Project Director at the ACLU of Illinois, said:

It’s a great day for Vernita and Pat, and an historic day for Illinois, for a deserving and loving couple to have the chance to be married on an expedited basis. Their love and commitment to each other has been demonstrated over time, and we’re thrilled they didn’t have to wait.

After the ceremony, Ms. Gray said:

I'm so excited for us and for the community, for today is a beginning. One so richly deserved.

The ACLU of Illinois and Lambda Legal asked that the case be heard on an emergency basis. Lawyers from Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, joined by counsel at Kirkland & Ellis and Miller, Shakman and Beem, asked the federal district court in Chicago to allow Mr. Orr to issue Ms. Gray and Ms. Ewert a marriage license so that they can be immediately married. Judge Durkin issued the emergency order in the afternoon on Monday, November 25th, and the Cook County Clerk’s office hand-delivered the license application to Ms. Gray and Ms. Ewert’s home the same evening.

Read the press release.