The Supreme Court is wading into the fight over same-sex marriage at a time when public opinion is shifting rapidly in favor of permitting gay and lesbian couples to wed, but 40 states don't allow it.
During Tuesday's arguments, several justices raised doubts that the case should even be before them and there was no real majority on the court for any specific outcome. Either way, the outcome will have a big impact on a lot of people.
Robert Lukey and his partner have been together for 27 years. Lukey said at this stage in their relationship, he doesn't really see a point in getting married. But, what he does want is the right to call his partner immediate family.
"You've been living with the person for 27 years, the most important person in your life and all of a sudden when it comes to these vital decisions...at least you have the ability to make the decision and the state doesn't tell you absolutely not," Lukey said.
To Lukey, gay marriage is more a civil rights issue than a gay issue.
"If you look at it from that perspective, it's really just an extension of civil rights to a group that has been denied the privilege of having full civil rights," he said.
Support for gay marriage in the U.S. is growing. According to a recent ABC news/ Washington Post poll, roughly 58% of people think gay marriage should be legal. That's up nearly 17% from 2004.
"I think if the Supreme Court decides to uphold prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, they're going to be on the wrong side of history because there's an avalanche that is moving in the direction of just saying let people do what they want to do," Lukey added.
Of course, those on the other side of the debate argue marriage should remain between a man and a woman, some even arguing that marriage's sole purpose should be procreation. But Lukey doesn't buy it and he says federal and state governments are interfering at a level that is totally unacceptable.
"To have that ability to say look, I am committed enough to this person, to go through this ceremony that is official, is very important," he said.