WILTON MANORS (CBS4) – When the U.S. Supreme Court considers two landmark cases on gay rights this week, Terry DeCarlo and Bill Huelsman will be following closely.
DeCarlo and Huelsman have been in a relationship for 17 years.
They’ve each referred to the other as “husband” for at least a decade now, but only “officially” married last December in New York in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.
“We she said, ‘I now pronounce you partners’, the people around starting clapping and it just started echoing all the way out,” DeCarlo said as he recalled the very public ceremony.
He hopes same-sex marriage will find the same kind of support with the Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, the nation’s highest court will hear arguments about Proposition 8, a California constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2008 banning same sex unions.
Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in 2010 that Prop 8 violated the U.S. Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses, but he opted to keep it place while the decision was appealed.
A federal appeals court upheld Walker’s decision in 2012.
On Wednesday, the justices are slated to review the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, a 1996 federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman for the purpose of taxes and benefits.
Although he was legally married in New York, Huelsman said he would not receive benefits if something were to happen to DeCarlo.
“I don’t understand why people are threatened by us,” Huelsman told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana. “I just don’t get it. Our relationship, we don’t threaten anybody.”
A CBS News poll last month asked more than 1,100 American adults, “Do you think it should be legal or not legal for same-sex couples to marry?”
In February, 54 % of respondents said same-sex marriage should be legal.
That’s up from 46% when the question was posed back in July 2012.
A Quinnipiac University Poll conducted between February and March asked, “In general, do you support or oppose same-sex marriage?”
When respondents were broken up by politician affiliation, 23% of Republicans said they support same-sex marriage, compared to 65% of Democrats. Fifty percent of Independents surveyed said they supported same-sex marriage.
President Obama made history last year when he became the first U.S. President to publicly voice his support for same-sex marriage.
His administration declined to defend DOMA in court.
The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its ruling by the end of June.
DeCarlo will be waiting.
“He was my husband before this piece of paper,” he said of Huelsman. “He’s my husband now. And he’ll be my husband whether DOMA goes through or doesn’t go through. He’ll be my husband.”