PEORIA, Ill. -- The U.S. Supreme Court issued two rulings on Wednesday that benefit supporters of same-sex marriage.
The high court struck down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act, saying that the federal government must recognize state-sanctioned same-sex marriages.
By refusing to rule on the substance of a case the justices also cleared the way for legal same sex marriage in California, known as Proposition 8.
That is good news for people like Hector Martinez who has been in a same-sex relationship for 20 years.
The ruling means Martinez and his partner can access federal benefits such as tax breaks and survivor assistance aid. Such assistance had previously only been afforded to heterosexual couples.
Martinez says the state's civil union law, approved two years ago, falls short in helping gay couples.
"The Supreme Court ruling has really given me added hope," said Martinez. "Civil Unions, I didn't grow up wanting to be unionized, being in a union with a partner I wanted to get married. So that's what I'm still hoping for."
Martinez says as a new employee on a job he does not have health benefits but he now hopes with the Supreme Court ruling he can eventually enjoy federal health benefits under his partner's plan after they can become legally married.