Vernita Gray, half of the first gay couple to marry in Illinois, died on Tuesday.

Gray, 64, and Patricia Ewert, 65, married in November after a federal judge ordered Cook County Clerk David Orr to issue the couple an expedited marriage license because Gray was battling a diagnosis of terminal cancer. The ruling eventually led to a broader decision which moved up the start of Illinois' gay marriage law in Cook County. A handful of other counties have also started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples ahead of the law's official June 1 start.

The couple exchanged vows before more than 20 friends and family. Gray, a retired victim's advocate with the Cook County state's attorney's office, and Ewert were among the first couples to enter a civil union in 2011.

Gray's death was first reported by gay weekly Windy City Times.

“Today we mourn the passing of a fearless woman who spent her life fighting for equality and civil rights,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “Vernita Gray was an inspiration to all who crossed her path, from President Obama who knew her by name to the victims of violence she comforted and the young people for whom she was a fierce advocate. Her legacy can be felt in the many institutions she supported and by every LGBT couple in Illinois who is now free to marry the person they love. My thoughts and prayers are with her wife Pat Ewert, her family, and the community of friends who loved her so dearly.”