Same-Sex Marriage Ahead of Schedule In Illinois for Couples Facing Terminal Illness

| by Allison Geller

Same-sex couples in Illinois can now get married before the official June 1st start date of statewide, legalized same-sex marriage if one partner is suffering from a serious medical condition.

The Huffington Post reported via the Windy City Times that a federal judge signed the order Monday, allowing gay couples in grave medical distress to get married immediately through a form filled out by their physician and accessible in the Cook County clerk's office. Couples from outside of Cook County must travel to the county to file the form, since it was the subject of the lawsuit, but the marriage will be valid anywhere in the state, ABC News reported via AP.

"This Court can conceive of no reason why the public interest would be disserved by allowing a few couples facing terminal illness to wed a few months earlier than the timeline would currently allow," U.S. District Judge Sharon Coleman wrote in her deciding opinion.

The decision was delivered orally on Dec. 9. Since then, two couples have already jumped at the change to wed, Elvie Jordan to Challis Gibbs and Ronald Dorfman to Ken Ilio.

Dorfman is afflicted with systolic congestive heart failure with a poor long-term prognosis.

"My cardiologist has therefore urged me to get married as soon as possible," Dorfman said in the complaint, which was launched by several private law firms as well as the Illinois ACLU.

Gibbs was told in November that she had only months to live. She and Jordan would likely not have time to wait for their planned June marriage. Wishing to ensure that Jordan would have spousal benefits, they entered into a civil union on late November. For the couple, though, this wasn't enough.

"When I die, I want Elvie to be able to say, 'I lost my wife,'" Gibbs said in the petition that led to the decision. "I do not want her to have to say that she lost her civil union partner."

Jordan told Gibbs in their wedding ceremony, "I love you now, and I will love you forever. Your heart is where I live," to which Gibbs responded, "Always."

One of the lawyers on the case, Jordan Heinz, described telling each of the couples that they would be able to get married.

"It was hard for them to really capture it in words," Heinz said. "They've been together for about twenty years each, and it took a while for the two of them to collect themselves, but 'joy' does not even begin to capture what I was hearing on the other side of the phone."

Sources: The Huffington PostABC News