Vernita Gray was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996 and it has now spread to her bones and her brain. Having possibly only a few weeks to live, an Illinois state court has granted a temporary restraining order to Vernita Gray and her soon to be wife Patricia Ewert, so the two can get married before the effective date of Illinois' recently signed marriage equality law and before Vernita possibly loses her battle with cancer.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin, an Obama appointee, signed a proposed temporary restraining order on Monday ordering Cook County Clerk David Orr to grant Vernita Gray and Patricia Ewert a marriage license and register their marriage.
In a statement, Gray expressed tremendous joy that she’d finally be able to marry her long-time partner in their home state. “I have two cancers, bone and brain and I just had chemo today — I am so happy to get this news,” Gray said. “I’m excited to be able to marry and take care of Pat, my partner and my family, should I pass.”
Courts have previously ordered county clerks to grant marriage licenses to gay couples statewide and a federal judge in Ohio has issued temporary restraining orders requiring the recognition of the union of same-sex couples who wed elsewhere. However, the Illinois order is the first time a court has through a temporary restraining order required a county clerk to provide a marriage license to a same-sex couple. It’s also the first time a court has granted an expedited license following a state legislature’s passage of marriage equality.
Earlier this month GLAAD shared the story of Lisa Dunaw, who is also battling cancer, and Therese Pieper who flew from Colorado to New York to have their marriage legally recognized before Lisa loses her battle. These stories of loving LGBT couples go right to the heart of the tremendous need for full marriage equality. No couple should have to put their life in danger to obtain the equality and peace they deserve, especially when having to cope with a terminal illness.