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Mar 26, 2013 2:02 AM by Rebecca Taylor

Tucsonans await Supreme Court hearing on same-sex marriage

TUCSON - A big week ahead for the U.S. Supreme court as justices prepare for back to back same-sex marriage cases.

The quick facts, Tuesday the justices will consider whether states can deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

Also whether the federal government can refuse to recognize married, same-sex couples.

Nine states, allow same-sex marriage along with Washington D.C., 38 others ban it.

A Tucson couple feels same-sex marriage needs to be protected federally. They refer to it as 'marriage equality'.

Thom Melendez says, "We've been together, it will be 18 years next month."

His partner Brian Bateman says, "And my family and his family both understand that."

Domestic partners since 1998 Brian and Thom want more recognition.

"Eleven hundred laws apply to married couples, that don't apply to non-married couples. So same sex unions, civil unions, domestic partnerships which Tucson started years ago. it just doesn't cut it financially, it doesn't cut it socially," says Bateman.

"And if anything were to happen to me, I would want him taken care of. And without the support of the legality of marriage, that can be difficult for him," says Melendez.

They've pondered getting married in states where it's legal, but decided against the idea until it's protected federally.

Melendez says, "For someone to get married in one state, then come to their home state and everything be negated, that's not equality."

On the flip side those against gay marriage attended a prayer vigil at the federal courthouse in Phoenix. Their goal is to preserve marriage between a man and woman.

Even so, Thom and Brian says it's no longer about tolerance, it's about equality.

"Something's happening right now that the Supreme Court is willing to hear this now. I think the fact is, the world is changing," says Melendez.

The high court will decide the case sometime in late June.

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