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Updated: Illinois judge issues ruling allowing some same-sex couples early marriage licenses

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Illinois state sealAn Illinois federal judge plans to require the state to allow same-sex couples where one individual faces terminal illnesses to wed ahead of a new marriage equality law’s June 2014 effective date.  Today, that judge will meet with both parties to hash out a possible method for enforcing her decision, BuzzFeed reports:

U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman has asked the parties to a lawsuit seeking that ruling to bring potential ways of resolving the question to her courtroom on Monday morning — a hearing that could end with a decision paving the way for more same-sex couples to marry before the law takes effect June 1.

Last week, Johnson Coleman ordered the Cook County clerk in Chicago to grant marriage licenses to two couples in the case immediately, echoing an earlier rulingby another federal judge that allowed Vernita Gray and Patricia Ewert to marry.

In both cases, same-sex couples went to court arguing that they needed to be able to marry before the June 2014 effective date of the marriage equality bill because one of the partners faces a life-threatening illness that could result in the partner’s death before then.

“Given the Illinois General Assembly’s enactment of Senate Bill 10, any erroneous decision here would only result in allowing a relatively few people to marry a short period of time sooner,” Johnson Coleman wrote. “The harm to the putative subclass of medically critical plaintiffs, on the other hand, would be far weightier since a denial of relief could effectively deny them the right to marry at all if one member of the couple passes away before June 1, 2014.”

In her decision, Johnson said the order was “contingent upon an agreement between the parties of a sufficiently delineated subclass or a satisfactory method of implementation of this Order.”

We’ll have an update on the situation after today’s hearing.

UPDATE (2:30 p.m. Eastern): In her order issued today, Judge Johnson Coleman instructed Illinois to allow same-sex couples to wed before June 1 if one partner has a serious medical illness, reports Windy City Times.  Marriage forms should be available this afternoon.


  • 1. Paul in Minneapolis  |  December 16, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    While this is great news, each one of us is only one unfortunate accident away from untimely departing this world. What about couples who don't contend with serious medical conditions? There's no guarantee they will live to see June 1, 2014. This ruling, though welcome, falls short in that it leaves healthy couples vulnerable (although the judge, admittedly, may be going as far as legally permissible – and yes, I am aware that healthy couples are more likely to have more options, such as traveling to another state or country to marry).

  • 2. Stefan  |  December 16, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    The legislature is likely to pass an add on to a bill which will move the date up.

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