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Set to become the 16th U.S. state to allow same sex marriage in June of 2014, an Illinois federal judge granted lesbian couple, Patricia Ewert and Vernita Gray, the right to legally wed six months before the marriage equality law takes effect, as Gray, 64, is terminally ill with cancer.

Her wish to be formally married to the woman she loves before she dies was made official during a civil partnership in their Chicago home.   The ceremony and marriage allows them not only to celebrate their devotion to each other, but to also offer protection for Ewert as her legal spouse. 

“I worked my whole life. I have a pension, I have social security,” Gray told CNN affiliate WGN. “These are the things we work for in life to help our families, not just to disappear because I’m going to leave this earth.”

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