Same-sex marriage does not become legal in Illinois until next June but two couples were able to exchange vows today (16 December) due to life threatening illness and others will be allowed to follow.
A federal judge has ordered that marriage licenses be immediately granted to all same-sex couples in the state who can provide a doctor's declaration stating that one or both of them is seriously ill enough to possibly not survive until the summer.
The orders were given less than two weeks after Vernita Gray and Patricia Ewert were the first same-sex couple in Illinois to marry because Gray, 64, is terminally ill with cancer.
Camilla Taylor, Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal, said the legal decision spares couples from having to go through as legal battle at a time when they most need calm.
'When you have a terminal illness, every day is significant,' Taylor says. 'Even though we know the freedom to marry is coming to Illinois, the default implementation date of the new law is too far away for these couples.'
Elvie Jordan and Challis Gibbs and Ronald Dorfman and Ken Ilio were granted marriage license applications after Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois filed suit on behalf.
Gibbs has metastatic cancer while Dorfman has been diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition.
The suit asked for emergency marriage licenses for these two couples and two others and for all other couples facing terminal illness.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a marriage bill into law last month but in order to get the support it needed to pass the stage legislature, one of the conditions was that the law would not go into effect until June 2014.
Below is video of the emotional ceremony marrying Jordan and Gibbs.