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.
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19, plus 1: The number of U.S. states that allow same-sex marriage, along with the District of Columbia. They are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.
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1: The number of U.S. states that allow civil unions between same-sex couples, but not marriage. That state is Colorado, which has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Civil unions are also still available in Hawaii, Illinois and New Jersey even though same-sex marriage is now legal in all three states.)
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2: The number of U.S. states that don't allow gay marriage but do allow same-sex domestic partnerships that grant some or nearly all state-level spousal rights to same-sex couples. Those states are Nevada and Wisconsin. (Domestic partnerships are also available in Hawaii, Maine, Washington and the District of Columbia.)
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A decision on the case is expected in June.
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