Illinois Gay Rights Activist Vernita Gray Dies From Cancer

Illinois Gay Rights Activist Vernita Gray Dies From Cancer

Vernita Gray, an Illinois gay rights activist who was able to wed her partner in what was Illinois’ very first same-sex marriage, has passed away at the age of 65 from cancer. Gray died Tuesday evening from cancer at the very same Chicago home where she married her partner Patricia Ewert back in November of last year. They had exchange vows in front of about 25 friends when they wed, explained family friend Jim Bennett to the public. Bennett was one of the individuals who had gathered at Gray’s home when she got married and also passed away.

Both Gray’s declining health and her desire to marry was able to convince a federal judge to make an order to allow that an accelerated marriage license be given to the couple before the June 1, 2014 official date of Illinois’ gay marriage law being passed. A consequent judge’s ruling then opened up the way for many more same-sex couples to be able to get married in various Illinois counties.

Gray had been a worker for gay rights for many years, supporting the idea of same-sex marriage a long time before most other activists even saw it as something that was possible. She attempted winning over people who considered themselves conservatives; she stated that she wanted her Social Security survivor paybacks to go to her partner, and her ability for working with people all over the political gamut helped to make everyone feel that they had a distinctive contribution to give in order to help the same-sex marriage movement go forward.

Gray had been a prior restaurant owner and had also worked for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office for nearly 20 years, supporting crime victims in their time of need and also helping witnesses if they so needed it.

Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s mayor commended all the work that Gray had done for equality and civil rights by declaring that Gray was an encouragement to everyone who crossed paths with her. This ranged from President Barack Obama, who knew Gray by her name, to the many sufferers of violence that she was a comfort for. She was also a strong advocate for young people. He added that her legacy would continue to be felt in the numerous institutions she was in support of and by each LGBT couple who lived in the state of Illinois who was now free to be able to marry the person they were in love with.

Pat Quinn, Illinois’ Governor, declared Gray to be a strongly driven supporter for equality in the state of Illinois. Gray, an Illinois gay rights activist who was able to wed her partner in what was Illinois’ very first same-sex marriage, passed away at the age of 65. She died Tuesday evening from cancer at the very same Chicago home where she married her partner Patricia Ewert back in November of last year, explained family friend Jim Bennett to the public. Bennett was one of the individuals who had gathered at Gray’s home when she passed away.

By Kimberly Ruble

Sources:

NBC News

The Chicago Tribune

ABC News

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