Same-sex marriage supporters win key victories in Utah and Indiana, await Colorado decision

DENVER - Proponents of same-sex marriage won two more victories on Wednesday, in Utah and Indiana.


-- Utah case --

A federal appeals court, for the first time, rules a state cannot prevent gay people from getting married.

A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver found that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution. The judges upheld a lower court ruling that struck down the ban in December.

However, they immediately put their ruling on hold so it could be appealed.

The case has been closely watched because it represents the first ruling on gay marriage at the appellate level since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013.

The ruling likely will be appealed to the Supreme Court.

The panel has not yet ruled on a similar ban in Oklahoma.


-- Indiana case --

In Indiana, a federal judge struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday, ruling that gay couples have the same marriage rights as couples of opposing genders.

The ruling takes effect immediately, meaning same-sex couples can begin marrying Wednesday. The clerk in Marion County, home to Indianapolis, says the office will start issuing marriage licenses.

 U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled that the state's ban was unconstitutional. The ruling involves lawsuits from several gay couples.

The Indiana attorney general's office says it will appeal but had no other immediate comment.


-- Colorado law --

In 2007, Colorado voters banned gay marriage in the Colorado constitution by passing Amendment 43. However, same-sex marriage advocates are awaiting a judge's decision on two lawsuits challenging the measure.

The first lawsuit involves an Adams County same-sex couple, Rebecca Brinkman and Margaret Burd, who sued last year after they were refused a marriage certificate.

The second lawsuit involves nine other couples who filed a lawsuit in February to overturn the state's voter-approved gay marriage ban. The two cases have been consolidated and were heard together earlier this month.

Federal courts across the country have struck down gay marriage bans recently, but many of those rulings are on hold pending appeal. Attorneys on both sides of the issue expect the matter to eventually land before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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