* I can understand the reasoning, I can totally sympathize with the plaintiffs and I am glad they’re now allowed to get married; but it still makes me somewhat uncomfortable that a federal judge would so easily toss aside a strict requirement in the Illinois Constitution…
US District Court Judge Thomas Durkin has ordered the Cook County, Illinois, clerk to issue an expedited marriage license to Chicago lesbian couple Vernita Gray and Patricia Ewert as Gray is terminally ill.
Gray, 64, has brain and bone cancer and Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on the couple’s behalf to ensure that they can marry before she dies.
Despite being signed into law by state Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois’ law allowing same-sex marriage does not take effect until 1 June, meaning without the ruling the couple would have a half year wait before they could marry.
Cook County clerk David Orr has said that he will comply with the court’s order, noting that expedited marriage licenses are granted to heterosexuals in similar situations.
* From the Illinois Constitution…
A bill passed after May 31 shall not become effective prior to June 1 of the next calendar year unless the General Assembly by the vote of three-fifths of the members elected to each house provides for an earlier effective date.
This language was inserted into the Constitution after the public voted for an amendment in 1994.
* Back to the plaintiffs…
Gray, who has inoperable brain tumors and breast cancer that has spread to her bones, learned of the news shortly after undergoing chemotherapy, which left her in a weakened state. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996.
“She may choose to wait a day or two to get married, just because the day after treatment can be very difficult,” said Camilla Taylor, the couple’s attorney. Taylor said Gray’s brain tumors could begin to fatally swell any day. “It could happen at any time without warning.”
Courtney Greve, spokesman for Clerk David Orr, said the paperwork for the marriage license would be hand-delivered to the couple Monday night and would make them eligible for marriage at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
Orr’s office, which was represented by the state’s attorney’s office, chose not to defend itself against the lawsuit.
Durkin essentially ruled that because of the special circumstance, the women should get a marriage license. The ruling affects only them but could serve as an inspiration for other couples facing similar situations, their attorneys said.
“This case illustrates the cruelty of being made to wait seven months to be able to marry,” Taylor said. “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.”
This could set some interesting precedents.