HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) — Same-sex marriage is one step closer to being legal in North Carolina. And for one elderly couple, time is of the essence.

Ellen "Lennie" Gerber and Pearl Berlin of High Point are lead plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against the Tar Heel State's gay-marriage ban. They've been together 48 years.

At 89 and in fragile health, Berlin doesn't know how much longer she can wait. The retired educator has been hospitalized several times in the past two years, including for a fall in December that broke three ribs.

The federal appellate court covering North Carolina has struck down the ban in neighboring Virginia. On Wednesday, that court refused to delay implementation of its ruling.

Gerber says North Carolina should bend to the arc of history.