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(NECN: Ally Donnelly) - Al and Keith Toney had their public wedding on July 24, 2004, but the couple legally married in secret months earlier on May 20 - just 72 hours after same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts and they weren't taking any chances.
"The governor, at our time, Romney, was actively and publicly trying to take away this right that was given to us," Al said.
Fast forward nine years and the Holden, Mass. men are keeping their eyes on another court. This one, much higher, as the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act - or DOMA - which prevents even legally married gay couples from receiving a host of federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples.
"We've been chipping away at that mountain that DOMA is and that's really how we're going to succeed," said Al. "And I think we're really on the cusp of succeeding now."
Al, a 46-year-old retired Worcester police officer who was shot on the job, says he rests easier knowing 41-year-old Keith and Al's daughter, 24-year-old Kayla, are covered by his health insurance and will get his pension when he dies. But the couple is frustrated that they and more than 130,000 other couples can't file their federal taxes jointly or enjoy tax breaks or other federal benefits.
The men are the first to successfully sue under DOMA to have Keith's married name on his passport.
"It's infuriating. It's exhausting. It's depressing -- because you think you've come so far and then to have it brought up again, it's like, really? Still?" Keith said.
Court watchers say some of the Supreme Court justices seem poised to strike down DOMA, but seem unclear on whether they have the power to do it.
"I'd like to say that the court is going to look at this and say, 'You're right. This is unconstitutional, let's get rid of this,'" Keith said, "But I'm a little concerned that there will be some sort of legal, procedural move..."
If the justices do strike DOMA down in June, the gay-rights activists say they will celebrate and rest, but just for a minute - adding any win will need constant defending.