Some same-sex couples allowed to marry sooner

Published 12/16 2013 03:51PM

Updated 12/16 2013 05:21PM

SPRINGFIELD -- Some same-sex couples are speeding up their wedding plans. The new Marriage Equality Law doesn't kick in for another six months, but a judge is giving some Illinois couples the chance to get married right away. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

It's for people who are terminally ill. Federal courts have already guaranteed three early marriage licenses to couples in that situation. Now, this decision will let anyone facing a life-threatening sickness to do the same.

"In sickness and in health has real meaning to us."

Vernita Gray and her partner, Patricia, were the first same-sex couple to get married in Illinois. Under the law, they were supposed to wait until June 1, 2014, but doctors aren't sure Gray will make it that long.

She's battling brain and bone cancer. That's why, last month, a federal judge granted the two an emergency marriage license.

"It's like Christmas, my birthday and the Tooth Fairy all rolled into one."

There are couples all across the state just like this. That's why the court says anyone with urgent medical needs can get a marriage license too, as long as a doctor signs off on it.

That opens up access to state and federal benefits which unmarried couples or those in civil unions can't have. Critics say the law should be the law. Supporters say it's a big win.

"So many couples have waited so many years, and so, some folks, to wait six more months, it's not that big of a deal maybe. But, for folks who have been together a long time, I know they're anxious and, when you have someone who is sick and dying, to be able to do that in their lifetime is so important."

But, she says, as good as the ruling is for those who need it, no couple should have to wait.

"Of course, the other side of this is people who are healthy. You don't know what tomorrow brings."

Couples who want to take advantage of this ruling can get the forms from the Cook County Clerk's website. But, you don't have to go to Chicago to get the marriage license. You can do it in any county statewide.

For couples who don't need the emergency marriage license, you can start getting married June 1, 2014. If you already have a civil union or were married in another state, you can get it transferred to an Illinois marriage certificate. Same-sex couples will have the same legal rights as every other married couple.

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