Illinois Brides Celebrate State’s First Gay Marriage

Couple granted an expedited marriage license as Vernita Gray is terminally ill with cancer

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Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Patricia Ewert, left, and Vernita Gray enter their living room for their wedding ceremony in Chicago on Nov. 27, 2013

Illinois’s first same-sex marriage was an emotional affair boasting two delighted brides, but the ceremony was also tinged with sadness as one of the women, Vernita Gray, is terminally ill with cancer.

Owing to her condition, Gray and her partner of five years, Patricia Ewert, were granted an expedited marriage license. Illinois became one of 16 U.S. states to approve gay marriage when Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation last week, but without the federal judge’s order the lovebirds may have had to wait until January to enjoy their big day.

And so, surrounded by around 20 family and friends, the pair tied the knot on Wednesday at their North Side Chicago apartment. “So happy, so incredibly happy,” Ewert told the Associated Press after the wedding. “We feel so blessed to have this honor bestowed upon us. I love my partner, my wife now, more every single day.”