Memorial Scheduled for LGBT Activist Vernita Gray

Gray and her longtime partner, Pat Ewert, were the state's first same-sex couple to legally wed

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    Vernita Gray was one-half of the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Illinois. Emily Florez reports. (Published Wednesday, March 19, 2014)

    A memorial service has been planned to honor the life and legacy of longtime Chicago activist Vernita Gray.

    Gray was one half of Illinois' first same-sex couple to legally marry in the state. She died early Wednesday after a long fight with cancer at the age of 65.

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    The U.S. District Court in Chicago this week ordered the county clerk to issue an early marriage license to an Illinois same-sex couple, one of whom is terminally ill. Mary Ann Ahern exclusively talks to Vernita Gray and Patricia Ewert. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013)

    A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, March 31 at the Goodman Theatre, at 170 N. Dearborn St.

    Gray and her wife, Pat Ewert, were legally married in November, shortly after Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation allowing same sex marriage in Illinois. That law doesn't take effect until June 1, but Gray and Ewert won a court battle to expedite their ceremony due to Gray's failing health.

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    Vernita Gray and Patricia Ewert will be the first couple to marry under Illinois' same-sex marriage law thanks to a ruling by the U.S. District Court in Chicago. "I'm just so impressed," Ewert said. "The judge was so brave to do what he did. I am just amazed." Mary Ann Ahern exclusively talked to the couple. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013)

    Gray was a longtime employee of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. She was first diagnosed with brain and bone cancer in 1996 and her relationship with Ewert spanned more than five years.

    The Windy City Times, which first reported her passing, offered a comprehensive look at Gray's years of LGBT activism.