By Ronnie Cohen and Sharon Bernstein

(Reuters) - The Reverend Paul Mowry, a minister at the Sausalito Presbyterian Church near San Francisco, awoke at 6:30 a.m. Monday, hoping it would be the day the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that would allow him to marry Joe Silverman, his companion of 27 years.

But despite widespread expectations, the court put off releasing its opinions on two key same-sex marriage cases until later this week, leaving Mowry and his partner to wait that much longer.

"It just ratchets up my anxiety and anticipation," Mowry, 51, told Reuters, perched with his laptop on his living room couch after scanning the SCOTUSblog website, a popular online outlet for high-court watchers, without finding a ruling.

Like many gay and lesbian couples, he and Silverman have been watching the Supreme Court keenly since the justices began releasing opinions at the beginning of this month.

Their adopted daughter, Ellie, who is 6, wiped sleep from her eyes as she walked down the stairs from her bedroom into the living room and sat between her two fathers on the couch.

They were still waiting, Mowry told her, to find out whether they could marry.

Erin Lindsay, who works in information technology at the California Institute of Technology, said she figured all along that the high court rulings would come down at the very last moment - possibly not until the end of this week.

Even so, she stayed up until the wee hours Monday morning perfecting a personalized version of the mathematical "equal" sign - used by many to signify support of same-sex marriage - for her Facebook page, just in case.

"The top part of the equal sign is a picture from our wedding and the bottom is a picture of my two girls," said Lindsay, who lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Sierra Madre.

Lindsay and her partner were among some 18,000 same-sex California couples legally wed between May 2008, when the state Supreme Court opened the doors to gay marriage, and November of that year, when voters passed Proposition 8 outlawing it.

But as is the case for many gay and lesbian couples married during that six-month window, Lindsay and her wife remain ineligible under the federal Defense of Marriage Act for some federal benefits that have long been afforded to heterosexual spouses.

The Supreme Court has been reviewing challenges to both California's Prop 8 and the nationwide restrictions placed on same-sex couples under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Lisa Shumaker)