For the Press

Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice Mourns the Loss of Vernita Gray

Statement of J. Bob Alotta

March 19, 2014

Bridget de Gersigny
Senior Media Communications Officer, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice

NEW YORK, NY—Today, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and its supporters mourn the loss of Vernita Gray, a longtime LGBTQI activist and supporter of our community. Vernita and her wife, Pat Ewert were the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Illinois following a legal battle to expedite their marriage due to Gray’s declining health. Illinois’ same-sex marriage law does not take effect until June 1, 2014.

Statement from J. Bob Alotta, executive director of Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice:

“It is with profound sadness that we mourn the passing of Vernita Gray. For decades, Vernita has been an inspirational leader for the LGBTQI community in Chicago and beyond. Her path to activism began in her home in the early 1970s when she started Chicago’s first gay and lesbian hotline and provided shelter to LGBTQI teens with no place to go. Even while battling cancer, Vernita never wavered in the fight for full equality for all. Thanks to her, countless numbers of lesbian, gay, trans and people of color have been emboldened to live their lives authentically and with profound dignity. She leaves an incredible legacy in the U.S. and around the world that will propel us forward on the path to making her life’s work for equality a reality for all.”

The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice will honor the legacy of Vernita Gray at an event in Chicago on May 16 at the Mayne Stage. In addition to Gray, activists Julio Rodriguez and Tracy Baim will also be honored.

ABOUT THE ASTRAEA LESBIAN FOUNDATION FOR JUSTICE Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is the only philanthropic organization working exclusively to advance LGBTQI human rights around the globe. We support hundreds of brilliant and brave grantee partners in the U.S. and internationally who challenge oppression and seed social change. We work for racial, economic, social, and gender justice, because we all deserve to live our lives freely, without fear, and with dignity.