After Pat Ewert (left) and Vernita Gray became the first same-sex couple to wed in Illinois, a judge's order today will allow other couples with major health issues to marry ahead of the June 1 effective date for the state's marriage equality law.
Ill. Gay Couples With Health Issues Will Be Able to Marry Early

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com December 16 2013 3:01 PM ET

Illinois same-sex couples in which one partner has a serious medical condition will be able to marry ahead of the June 1 effective date for the state’s marriage equality law, a judge ruled today.

The written order by U.S. District Judge Sharon Coleman will allow these couples to obtain a form from their county clerk’s office to apply for an early marriage for medical reasons, Chicago’s Windy City Times reports. The forms are expected to be available as early as this afternoon, at least in Cook County, which includes Chicago, and couples from anywhere in the state can download the forms from the Cook County clerk’s website. The application will need to be certified by a physician declaring that one or both members of the couple has a life-threatening illness.

Coleman had issued an oral ruling last week that allowed two couples, Elvie Jordan and Challis Gibbs, and Ronald Dorfman and Ken Ilio, to marry. An earlier order had OK’d the first same-sex marriage in the state, that of Vernita Gray and Patricia Ewert. Each couple has one member with an illness so serious they may not survive until the law’s effective date.

A suit seeking early marriages for couples with major health issues was filed on behalf of several couples by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, along with the law firms of Kirkland & Ellis and Miller Shakman & Beem. 

“Today we’re happy that the judge has agreed to protect other people who have serious illnesses, and we have an agreement from the state's attorney and [Cook County clerk] David Orr’s office for a simple certification process. … It’s a great day for people who need to marry now and deal with emergency situations,” ACLU attorney John Knight told Windy City Times. “Marriage is hugely important for same-sex couples, healthy or otherwise, but for those people, they really need it now.”