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Dying Chicago woman weds partner in first Illinois gay marriage

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A Chicago woman who is dying of cancer wed her partner on Wednesday in the first legal gay marriage to be celebrated in Illinois, six months before the state's law recognizing gay unions takes effect.

The cancer patient, Vernita Gray, 64, and Patricia Ewert, 65, were wed in a private ceremony in their Chicago home two days after they were granted an emergency marriage license in federal court, according to Lambda Legal, a legal group that advocates for gay rights.

Illinois' gay marriage law, signed by Gov. Pat Quinn last week, does not take effect until June 1, 2014. The couple had sued, arguing the delay discriminated against them by preventing the couple from marrying before Gray's death.

"I'm so excited for us and for the community, for today is a beginning. One so richly deserved," said Gray in a statement.

Illinois last week became the 16th state to recognize same-sex marriages. That was the latest in a series of gay rights victories, as Hawaii earlier in the month approved gay marriages and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in October dropped his appeal of a court ruling that legalized same-sex nuptials.

(This story has been refiled to correct spelling of Lambda in second paragraph)

(Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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