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Illinois county to allow same-sex marriages for gravely ill

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Same-sex couples in Cook County Illinois, which includes Chicago, can obtain emergency marriage licenses before next June if one partner has a life-threatening illness, officials said on Monday.

Last month, Illinois became the 16th state to legalize gay marriage beginning June 1, 2014. Three couples sued for expedited marriage licenses, and a federal judge in Chicago ordered Cook County to issue licenses to anyone who can present proof from a doctor that one or both partners may not live until the law takes effect.

"This establishes a process so couples won't have to go to court in the future if they're facing similar circumstances," Cook County spokeswoman Courtney Greve said.

Two Chicago women became the first same-sex couple to wed in Illinois late in November after they sued for an expedited license. One of the women has terminal cancer. Two other couples were issued emergency licenses last week, Greve said.

Illinois in November became the third Midwestern state to approve same-sex marriage after Iowa and Minnesota.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by David Gregorio)

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