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Gay Rights Activist Vernita Gray, Who Was First to Marry in Illinois, Dies at 65


Vernita Gray (left), who married her wife Patricia Ewert last November in Illinois' first legal gay marriage, has died of bone and brain cancer at 65.

Gray was allowed to marry Ewert before marriage equality's then effective date of June 1 after an order from the U.S. District Court in Chicago allowed it, given Gray's terminal illness.

Marriage equality has since been allowed statewide after Attorney General Lisa Madigan published guidance in early March.

The AP reports:

[Family friend Jim] Bennett says Gray advocated for same-sex marriage long before many gay rights activists saw it as a possibility, and she had a knack for working with people across the political spectrum.

Our thoughts go out to Gray's wife, family, and friends.

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  1. Vernita was always a great lady and operated on full time energy of love and devotion to Chicago's gay community. Her courage was amazing and endless. A great inspiration to all segments of our city's gay progress. Her smile was like a halo. We are thankful for the time she shared with us.

    Posted by: jerry pritikin the Bleacher Preacher | Mar 19, 2014 2:12:03 PM

  2. enjoy a well-earned rest, Angel. your work will love on.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Mar 19, 2014 2:21:01 PM

  3. My sincere condolences to Patricia, & to all Vernita's & Patricia's family & friends. It may be small comfort, but the fact that they were able to marry at last is a wonderful thing. Critics say 'evolving' is the correct approach, what's the rush? I say - the answer is right there, in Vernita's & Patricia's story. We want our equal rights & we want them NOW.

    Posted by: Leroy Laflamme | Mar 19, 2014 2:29:18 PM

  4. Rest in peace, Vernita and condolences to Patricia. Thank both of you for your gifts in the struggle for equality for LGBT people.

    Posted by: Craig | Mar 19, 2014 3:38:34 PM

  5. Wonderful that she lived long enough to not only make history but simply to live out her dream to fruition.

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Mar 19, 2014 5:42:56 PM

  6. and NOM, the Catholic Church and the Republican Party platform would have denied them the joy of spending their last days together as a married couple...
    such a misunderstanding of morality from those who presume to uphold it.

    Posted by: woody | Mar 19, 2014 5:49:20 PM

  7. I'm glad we got the opportunity to see her beautiful smile.

    Posted by: Glenn I | Mar 19, 2014 6:34:11 PM

  8. Very sad.....Vernita was very nice woman! Class

    Posted by: Shannon | Mar 21, 2014 2:04:04 AM

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