WILTON MANORS, Fla. -

Gays and lesbians throughout South Florida await the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage.

Justices seemed reluctant Tuesday to extend a sweeping constitutional right for gays and lesbian to wed in all 50 states. It was the first of two days of hearings on cases that have the potential to fundamentally alter how American law treats marriage.

At the Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors, a group of seniors meet each Tuesday for coffee. This week, they discussed the hearing happening in Washington, D.C.

"You know somebody that had Alzheimer's and died, and literally she died alone because her partner wasn't allowed to be in the room with her," said Susan Mack.

"I'm delighted. I am absolutely delighted," said John Patrick Connolly. "A huge change over the last 15 years since I was a youngster."

Gary Payne, who met his partner in 1957, talked about living as a gay man during the 1950s.

"In many ways, it was a lot of fun and, in many ways, it was very scary. I had a job with a company that did government work. Had they found I was gay, I would've been fired," he said. "It's just wonderful that I can even say the word 'gay' on television.

They said having their desire for equality argued before the highest court was both exhilarating and nerve racking.

"We've come a long ways. We've still got a long ways to go," said Nancy Drennen.

Same-sex marriage by the numbers

Published On: Mar 26 2013 12:50:53 PM EDT   Updated On: Feb 10 2014 10:29:10 AM EST

Attorney General Eric Holder has announced the Justice Department will issue a memo Monday that recognizes same-sex marriages "to the greatest extent possible under the law." Take a look at the numbers behind same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage, gay marriage
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Cliff Despeaux/Reuters

Attorney General Eric Holder has announced the Justice Department will issue a memo Monday that recognizes same-sex marriages "to the greatest extent possible under the law." Take a look at the numbers behind same-sex marriage, according to CNN and other sources.

A decision on the case is expected in June.