Following a flurry of activity in legislatures across the country this year, there are now 16 American states where gay marriage is legal.

Arkansas is not one of those states.

At least not yet. Although gay and lesbian couples do not share the same legal protections as do married heterosexual couples within the state, reform movements continue to press for substantive changes. The obvious hope, of course, is that state law will eventually embrace the progressive adjustments that have been made to accommodate same-sex couples in a steadily increasing number of other states.

In the interim, of course, many people in Arkansas are as keenly interested in material developments concerning same-sex couples around the country as are residents in other states. We pass along one recently breaking story from Illinois that might interest our readers.

Illinois recently passed a law providing for same-sex marriage, to take effect on June 1 of next year.

The problem with that deadline for some couples who want to marry is this: A life-threatening illness makes it likely that one of the partners will die prior to the law taking effect.

That is far from an isolated possibility, with several couples in Illinois having already secured the right to marry ahead of the law’s effective date, following their receipt of a judge’s intervention and order that they be granted a marriage license.

A federal judge signed an order this past Monday that eliminates the need for judicial intervention going forward — at least in Cook County — for same-sex couples facing a life-threatening illness who seek to marry without delay.

Such couples who seek to marry ahead of the effective date will now require only a doctor’s note.

The judge stated in her order that there is “no reason why the public interest would be disserved” by the ruling.

Source: MSNBC, “Same-sex couples facing terminal illness in Illinois can wed immediately,” Clare Kim, Dec. 17, 2013