Illinois Gay Marriages OKed for Terminally Ill
Gay couples who want to wed immediately in Illinois because one partner has a life-threatening illness could do so starting Monday - rather than waiting until the state’s same-sex law takes effect in June - after a U.S. judge broadened the medical exception statewide.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman’s final order on the matter, issued at a hearing in Chicago on Monday, comes in the wake of another judge’s recent ruling allowing a lesbian couple to get married last month in Illinois because one of the women is terminally ill.
Coleman’s ruling in the class-action lawsuit means any couple in Illinois can apply to marry right away - via the Cook County clerk’s office - if they can provide a doctor’s note confirming one partner is terminally ill.
The four couples named as plaintiffs, all of whom are from Cook County, include Elvie Jordan and Challis Gibbs, who recently entered a civil union. Gibbs has cancer and may not live until June, according to the complaint.
"When I die, I want Elvie to be able to say, ’I lost my wife.’ I don’t want her to have to say, ’I lost my civil union partner,’" it quotes Gibbs as saying.
Gay rights advocates welcomed Coleman’s decision, saying it could result in dozens of gay couples marrying soon. Illinois is the 16th state to legalize gay marriage, but the same-sex law doesn’t take effect until June 1.
"Marriage means so much to them," Camilla B. Taylor, one of several plaintiffs’ attorneys, said on Monday. "To know they will get their own measure of joy is a great joy."
Several couples with one ailing partner have previously secured marriage licenses. But, until this week, they first had to seek a judge’s order. With Coleman’s decision, that’s no longer the case, said Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.